Newcastle United has officially announced that the Saudi Arabian national football team, the Green Falcons, will face Costa Rica at 8pm on Friday 8 September before taking on South Korea at 5:30pm on Tuesday 12 September.
The Saudi state has decided to further cash in on their investment in Newcastle United and use the club, stadium, and region as a billboard for their human rights abusing regime.
This is how sportswashing works
Rather than talk about the nine minors currently on death row in Saudi Arabia and Salma al-Shehab and Nourah al-Qahtani, Saudi mothers jailed fo 34 and 45 years for tweeting in favour of women’s rights, they want to be associated with footballing success. That is how sportswashing works.
At the time of the takeover, all those who went along with the Saudi state takeover claimed the Public Investment Fund (PIF) was completely separate from the Saudi state. Yet since then, NUFC Chair, Yasir al-Rumayyan has publicly admitted in US court papers he is a minister in the government and is embarrassingly addressed as, ‘Your Excellency’ in the Amazon ‘documentary’ presently being aired.
The NUFC Chairman, a leading figure in one of the most repressive regimes in the world, participated in a kick-around on the pitch at St James Park (SJP) in the club colours.
Other regime figures who are publicly associating themselves with the club, include the younger brother and financial ‘consigliere’ of Saudi Arabia’s chief dictator Mohammed bin Salman, who attended the Carabao Cup Final wearing a Newcastle scarf.
A bridge too far
The announcement of Saudi Arabian international matches at SJP could be a bridge too far for many fans, who are starting to see how blatantly the Saudi regime is exploiting their ownership of our club for sportswashing purposes.
A call for the matches not to go ahead
Even at this late stage, Newcastle United Fans Against Sportswashing (NUFCFAS) calls on the FA not to allow the matches to go ahead and urges the Premier League to publish the so-called, ‘legally binding assurances’ that the Saudi state would not be in charge of our club, as clearly they have been broken.
Which regime figures could turn up at SJP if these internationals go ahead? Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto lead dictator in Saudi Arabia, who ordered the murder of opposition journalist Jamal Khashoggi?
If the matches are not called off NUFCFAS will call on fans to protest inside and outside the ground against Saudi regime sportswashing and in solidarity with their many victims in Saudi Arabia.
John Hird – Newcastle United Fans Against Sportswashing