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Human rights groups criticise Newcastle sale to Saudi-led consortium


Oct 8 (Reuters) – Saudi Arabian human rights group ALQST accused the Premier League of being pushed solely by cash and using ‘profoundly insufficient’ standards for assessing human rights issues within the wake of Newcastle United being acquired by a Saudi-led consortium.

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) — chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman — now owns 80% of the membership, with the remainder divided between RB Sports & Media and PCP Capital Partners, whose chief government, Amanda Staveley, led the takeover. learn extra

While followers are hopeful that the takeover will assist flip the Premier League membership’s fortunes round, a number of human rights groups have questioned the Premier League for permitting the transfer to undergo, pointing to Saudi Arabia’s poor human rights report.

“For Saudi Arabia, the deal shows the success of their PR strategy to invest in sporting ventures in a bid to clean up their image. For the Premier League… they are effectively inviting other abusive leaders to follow suit,” ALQST performing director Nabhan al-Hanashi advised Reuters.

“Their (Premier League) reasoning that PIF is a separate entity from the Saudi state is farcical — one only has to look at who chairs the PIF — Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman himself, whose rule has been marked by the most brutal forms of repression.”

Human Rights Watch described the takeover as a wake-up name for followers, broadcasters and gamers.

“This is against the backdrop of a strategy by Saudi Arabia to use sports teams, athletes and major sporting events in the country to distract from its national human rights crises,” mentioned Minky Worden, director of worldwide initiatives at Human Rights Watch.

The Premier League and PIF didn’t instantly reply to requests for a remark.

Saudi Arabia’s authorities denies allegations of human rights abuses and says it’s defending itself from extremists and exterior components, whereas the Premier League mentioned on Thursday that it green-lighted the transfer after receiving “legally-binding assurances that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will not control Newcastle United Football Club”.

In an interview to The Times on Thursday, Staveley rejected recommendations of “sportwashing”, saying had that been the case, they’d have purchased a serious franchise within the U.S. and never a membership sitting within the relegation zone within the Premier League.

“… This is about business investment and doing something special with a fantastic football club with the best fans in the world,” she mentioned.

Reporting by Dhruv Munjal in Bengaluru, modifying by Pritha Sarkar

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Soccer Football - Newcastle United Takeover - St James' Park, Newcastle, Britain - October 7, 2021 Fans react outside the stadium after Newcastle United announced takeover Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith

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