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Wealth opens doors where human rights abusers are welcomed ...

Newcastle takeover: Amnesty International urges Premier League to change owners' and directors' test

Saudi takeover of Newcastle leaves human rights to fog on the Tyne | The Guardian |

And they are right to say that this is where the game has been headed. Great English clubs, passionately supported and sentimentally glorified as homes of local belonging, became in football's moneyed times assets for local owners to cash in and make mega-gains for themselves, by selling to international investors. Clubs, and sport itself, have also increasingly become priceless vehicles for international image-laundering by countries seeking global projection of soft power. Amnesty International has neatly titled this phenomenon sportwashing.

Through all the fog on the Tyne, the focus needs to be maintained on how appalling Saudi Arabia's and Bin Salman's human rights records are. Khashoggi, a distinguished journalist who wrote critically of Bin Salman's repression and the horrendous war waged in Yemen, was killed and dismembered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights stated in its report that the Saudi Arabian state was responsible.

The CIA concluded in November 2018, according to authoritative US reporting, that Bin Salman ordered the murder; he has denied it. The same crown prince is chairman of the PIF, the fund approved to take over Newcastle United. Ashley was so intent on selling the club to the Saudis that he was suing the Premier League for the right to do so.

Sportswashing, or building a country's image through associating with sport's incomparable wonder and excitements, is not a development of recent years; it has a history longer even than Hitler's Germany hosting the 1936 Olympics. Locally, professional football ownership or sponsorship has always been a vehicle for people or companies to puff themselves up.

It seems unlikely that after his claimed triumph of seeing off the Super League, Boris Johnson will raise any objection to English football's first major development since then. At the same Conservative party conference this week, Johnson's foreign secretary, Liz Truss, hailed the Gulf monarchies, but not the 27 European Union democracies, as among "our friends and allies" with whom we should be "forging closer ties". This is where the national game, and the nation, are today.

'English football will sell itself to anyone': human rights groups condemn Saudi-Newcastle deal

by Oui on Fri Oct 8th, 2021 at 09:48:41 AM EST

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