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John Barnes has expressed his anger after believing that footballers are held to a different standard than other sports stars.
Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerrard have been widely criticized for facing new challenges in Saudi Arabia over the past year.
Henderson has been particularly criticized for being a strong ally of the LGBTQ+ community.
However, Barnes feels this is unfair and believes that the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Anthony Joshua get away with similar treatment.
John Barnes feels footballers are unfairly criticized compared to other sports stars
Hamilton has raced in Saudi, while Joshua recently defeated Otto Wallin in the Middle East.
However, Barnes believes it is unfair to focus on footballers when so many other sports stars perform in Saudi.
“I have to ask why people hold footballers to a different standard,” he told Gambling Zone.
“We can question the ethics of Lewis Hamilton for racing there, Anthony Joshua for boxing there, or the ethics of tennis players for going to Qatar.
“We acknowledge that Lewis Hamilton races in Saudi despite supporting LGBT social causes and the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Nobody blinks, and I wonder why football players are suddenly being scrutinized.
“Maybe footballers shouldn’t get involved in the culture wars by pretending to care.
“A lot of people in sport talk about taking a stand on human rights issues, but when the pressure increases and they are offered a lot of money, they go and do something else.
“I think they should keep football out of these matters.
“We are governed by those who do business with Saudi, so individuals should be able to do the same.
“Tell the government to stop selling them weapons or stop them from coming here and buying property, if it’s such a big deal!
“I think it’s a little contradictory.”
Saudi Arabia have made waves in football over the past 12 months.
Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably the biggest sports star on the planet, plays for Al-Nassr.
And Saudi has also been able to attract A-listers like Neymar, Karim Benzema and N’Golo Kante to the country.
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John Barnes has criticized Lewis Hamilton for racing in Saudi Arabia because of his beliefs.
However, Barnes does not feel that Saudi football is a threat, and believes that footballers are using the country as a well-paid retirement home.
“Saudi Arabia does not influence football in any way,” he said.
“The players who are going there are all at the end of their careers.
“Pelé and Franz Beckenbauer went to America in the 1970s and David Beckham did the same thing 30 years later.
“Forget about political influence and moral propriety – they left because they were at the end of their careers.
John Barnes thinks Anthony Joshua gets away with boxing in Saudi Arabia because he’s not a footballer
“If Saudi had the best young players in the world it would have been a different story. Only a few players have been there, and they won’t challenge anything other than finances.
“Ruben Neves is the exception, but he may come back in the future.
“Saudi Arabia wants to make a statement by using football to raise its profile. However, their teams only have two or three superstars and will never challenge for football.
“The Saudis may seriously challenge golf, but their presence in football is neither a good or bad thing.
“It’s good for them, but it will have no impact on the wider game other than increasing players’ wages.”