Impeachment of Chelsea owner revives controversy over Saudi ownership of Newcastle Club

The European Microscope for Middle East issues has monitored a broad criticism campaign in the British media for the double standards in dealing with the ownership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the English club Newcastle United.

The European Microscope, a European institution concerned with monitoring the interactions of Middle Eastern issues in Europe, said that the announcement of the English Premier League dismissed Russian businessman Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea FC, from his position as club director, re-controversy over Riyadh’s relationship with a rival team in the Premier League.

The European Microscope stated that a series of reports and articles published in various British media outlets unanimously agreed on the need to take similar measures for English clubs used by authoritarian countries in sports washing, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The decision to dismiss Abramovich came in the wake of British sanctions against 7 wealthy Russians, including the owner of Chelsea Football Club, and imposing a travel ban on them, against the backdrop of the Russian military operation against Ukraine.

The Independent published a report highlighting that Saudi Arabia’s purchase of Newcastle in a deal months ago is a glaring example of modern sports washing.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has added Newcastle to a raft of sporting acquisitions designed to reshape its international image and divert attention from the country’s appalling human rights record.

The newspaper pointed out that Amnesty International called for more measures to combat “sports washing” before confronting Chelsea, owned by Roman Abramovich, who is close to Putin, and Newcastle, which the Saudi Investment Fund funds.

The Guardian reports that Chelsea’s ownership is finally facing well-deserved scrutiny, but there is a double standard for Newcastle owners about Saudi Arabia.

The newspaper stressed that “when imposing sanctions on the Chelsea club manager, we must not forget the owners of Newcastle, whose hands have become stained with the blood of Yemenis, and are linked to regimes accused of committing war crimes.”

The newspaper stressed that Bin Salman, like Vladimir Putin, and Saudi Arabia, like Russia, is involved in the invasion of a neighbouring country, and his hands are stained with blood. He owns the fund that bought Newcastle FC.

In this context, the Daily Mail Online confirmed that Saudi Arabia deserves to be imposed international sanctions, just like Russia, against the backdrop of Riyadh’s war on Yemen.

Over the past seven years, Saudi Arabia has fought a war that has killed an estimated quarter of a million people, not to mention famine, chaos and societal collapse.

Human Rights Watch has previously called for an investigation into the role of Mohammed bin Salman – who runs the fund that runs Newcastle United, to be clear – with alleged war crimes.

The Premier League also brandished the Saudi takeover of Newcastle last October, knowing that the Saudis were involved in a long and devastating war with Yemen that was said to have caused 233,000 deaths. It is estimated that more than 10,000 children were killed or injured due to the fighting.

The war in Yemen has not received as much attention as the war in Ukraine, perhaps because British weapons back it and because Boris Johnson is planning a trip to Riyadh this week to demand more Saudi oil.

“The Premier League is where we have allowed authoritarian regimes and their beneficiaries to play,” the newspaper said. It is a place where fans sing their name and shower their critics with abuse.”

It noted that Manchester City is owned by the majority of the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, which refused to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The beauty of the club’s football and the genius of their coach, Pep Guardiola, have insulated them from further scrutiny until this point.

“Saudi Arabia should never have been allowed to buy Newcastle, and now that the owner of Chelsea has been sanctioned for his out-of-game activities, it is time for English football to take the same stance with Mohammed bin Salman.”

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