Jordan Henderson admits his recent experience of crowd and stadium problems has made him twice as likely to attend the World Cup in Qatar with his family.
The 32-year-old was on the bench as England’s Euro 2020 final against Italy was overshadowed by unrest among supporters on the doorstep of Wembley Stadium.
He then captained Liverpool in their loss to Real Madrid in last season’s Champions League final, a match postponed because spectators were unable to access the Stade de France, which led to local police using tear gas and pepper spray on supporters and ultimately to a full investigation on behalf of UEFA.
Henderson’s family was almost caught up in the Wembley furor as fans stormed through security checks without tickets.
“My family and friends have had a number of experiences over the past few years, which have really shocked and probably deterred them from going to future games,” he said.
“Hopefully that will change in the near future as it gets closer to the tournament. But when you see scenes like you have in the European Championship final, in the Champions League final, they don’t really want to be in that situation again.
“My wife and children had to try to get through a side door [at Wembley] which they wouldn’t let in at first. And they were stuck.
“She was trying to get the kids away from everything that was going on and eventually I think after about 15-20 minutes, someone recognized she was my wife and she was lucky that because they knew it was me, they rushed them in .
“But if that person hadn’t, I mean, it could have been a problem. My father was a bit involved, I think some of the fathers of the players, like Harry Maguire’s, were badly injured.
“I think we all know that wasn’t great, that was a bad experience for a lot of people that final. Then we have Paris, which is probably even worse.
“So I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to put themselves in that situation and to be honest there are two completely different reasons but again if it was me I wouldn’t want to put myself in that situation. situation.
“My father said he was ready after the Champions League final. But as it gets closer, I think there are a lot of safety elements and things going on in Qatar that I’m sure will make people safer.
“But when you’ve had those experiences, sometimes you think it’s worth risking it, but we’ll have to see closer to the times.”
Henderson’s comments came on the back of England team-mate Eric Dier, who said he would not allow his mother to travel and watch him in away games due to what he perceived to be an increase in bad behavior from supporters.
But it’s not just disorderly fans that can cause tension in and around stadiums, as Henderson and his Liverpool team-mates learned just before their Champions League final in Paris.
“Part of my family got caught up in it, which wasn’t ideal. A lot of the players’ families, I think it’s everyone, have become entangled outside the stadium,” Henderson added.
“I think it was pretty awful. When I spoke to some of my friends and my family and my father, it was pretty bad.
“I think in the final in Paris I think if the fans hadn’t been respectful there could have been a lot more problems, to be honest, so I think the fans were great.
“It was the authorities and the people around the stadium who were not and caused problems.
“But as a fan, if you go to the game and you don’t feel comfortable and you feel threatened by any situation, you don’t want to go again. And it really is that simple.”
After initially being left out of Gareth Southgate’s roster for the upcoming Nations League double-header against Italy and Germany, Henderson was called up after returning to fitness after a hamstring injury.
He admits he was involved in the final camp before the World Cup, saying: “First and foremost it’s to make sure I’m fit and available to play.
“There’s no point in coming here if I’m not fit. Once that was the case, of course I want to be here for two big games against Italy and Germany, but yes, also for the World Cup.
“It doesn’t matter which camp it is to be honest, I always want to be part of the set up and luckily it worked out and hopefully I can train for a good week and play some of the games.”