Newcastle fans 'paying tribute' to Saudi owners says reporter
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Newcastle United are facing a major backlash after a leaked kit suggested they would be playing in the colours of Saudi Arabia next season. The Magpies are owned by PIF, the sovereign wealth fund of the Saudi state, though both the club and the Premier League have tried to argue there are limited links between the country and the team.
But the kit that has leaked by Twitter user @aycazehraakcay would appear to make a mockery of those arguments, with the Castore-made away kit carrying the colours of the Saudi state. The shirt itself is white with Saudi green trim, with the Castore and Newcastle logos both coloured Saudi green.
It means the kit bears an astonishing resemblance to the Saudi national team shirt, which has already provoked a huge uproar. Both Newcastle fans and supporters of other Premier League sides have slammed the club for the move to increase their links with the Saudi state.
“I hate this, and I’m a huge Newcastle fan. I just can’t get on board with integrating Saudi into our brand and identity,” one said. Another added: “Sorry like but that is rank. Just because we are owned by them doesn’t mean we should look like them.”
A third fumed: “It is unashamedly blatant in spelling out how much of a vehicle our club is for the sportwashing of KSA. Might as well just have [Saudi leader] MBS’ face across the front too.” A fourth said: “Tell me this isn’t true. Just when we’ve found a way to live with the reality, something like this comes along to remind us. Awful.”
The Premier League were heavily criticised for allowing Saudi Arabia to take over a club, with many pointing to its shameful record on human rights. Though they insisted they had been given “legally binding assurances” that the Saudi state would not control Newcastle, Amnesty International have repeatedly slammed the decision.
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“Ever since this deal was first talked about we said it represented a clear attempt by the Saudi authorities to sportswash their appalling human rights record with the glamour of top-flight football. Saudi ownership of St James’ Park was always as much about image management for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his government, as it was about football,” Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s CEO, said when the deal was announced.
“Under Mohammed bin Salman, the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia remains dire – with government critics, women’s rights campaigners, Shia activists and human defenders still being harassed and jailed, often after blatantly unfair trials. Instead of allowing those implicated in serious human rights violations to walk into English football simply because they have deep pockets, we’ve urged the Premier League to change their owners’ and directors’ test to address human rights issues.”
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