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"It's sportswashing" | Amnesty criticise potential Newcastle United takeover

Amnesty International has criticised the mooted Saudi Arabian takeover of Newcastle United as con...



Soccer

"It's sportswashing" | Amnesty criticise potential Newcastle United takeover

Amnesty International has criticised the mooted Saudi Arabian takeover of Newcastle United as constituting 'sportswashing' should it come to pass.

Reports have suggested that the Premier League club may be close to being taken over by Saudi owners, with state funds earmarked for overseas investment.

Amnesty's Head of Priority Campaigns, Felix Jakens, took aim at this being an example of laundering funds from a regime whose human rights record has come into question.

“It’s not for us to say who should own Newcastle, but players, backroom staff and fans alike ought to see this for what it is - sportswashing, plain and simple,” said Jakens.

“Given the deluge of investment in sport we’ve seen from Saudi Arabia recently, a takeover of Newcastle United would not come as a major surprise," he continued.

Newcastle takeover?

“Saudi Arabia is well-known for its attempts at ‘sportswashing’ – trying to use the glamour and prestige of top-tier sport as a PR tool to distract from the country’s abysmal human rights record."

Jakens criticised the country's leaders for their human rights record.

“Under the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, there’s been a sweeping human rights crackdown, with numerous peaceful activists jailed, including Loujain al-Hathloul and other brave women’s rights defenders.

“There’s been a blatant whitewash over Jamal Khashoggi’s grisly murder, there are continuing concerns over Saudi hacking, and the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen has a bloody record of launching indiscriminate attacks on homes and hospitals.

“The sportswashing effect can be countered if those involved are willing to do so. Staff and fans at Newcastle United should familiarise themselves with the dire human rights situation in Saudi Arabia and be prepared to speak out about it.”

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