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6 Apr 2022

FourFourTwo (USA)

Six months after Saudi Arabia-backed Newcastle Utd. takeover, Premier League ownership test still lacks human rights criteria, say Amnesty Intl.

"Amnesty ‘still waiting for Premier League to take action against sportswashing’," 6 Apr 2022

Amnesty International has renewed its call for the Premier League to consider human rights under its ownership test as Newcastle’s Saudi-backed owners prepare to celebrate six month at the helm.

The human rights campaigners accused the new owners of “sportswashing” as their buy-out was confirmed...

Helen MacNamara, the Premier League’s chief policy and corporate affairs officer, addressed the issue when she appeared before the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee last month, describing the owners’ and directors’ test as “an evolving thing” and revealing an independent panel was being assembled to assist its board in decision-making.

In addition, she acknowledged the help of Amnesty and other partners and said “we absolutely do recognise the case for change”, and that ongoing consultations with shareholders will continue at the league’s AGM in June.

Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe, who was installed as Steve Bruce’s replacement by the new owners within weeks of their arrival, found himself in the firing line when he opted not to discuss the club’s ownership in his post-match press conference at Chelsea on March 13 as it emerged 81 people had been executed in the Gulf state.

Howe, who said he was qualified only to talk about football, later vowed to read up on the situation.

“The Saudi buy-out of Newcastle exposed the glaring inadequacies of English football’s ownership rules – with no bar for those complicit in acts of torture, slavery, human trafficking or even war crimes – yet it hasn’t led to the change we urgently need to see...Six months on from the Saudi deal...we’re still waiting for the Premier League to take action to stop English football being used for blatant sportswashing.”
Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s chief executive officer