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Men's Football Newcastle's statement on discrimination ‘reeks of hypocrisy’

Fair Game calls on Magpies’ Saudi owners to ‘condemn the acts of discrimination in his home country’

NEWCASTLE United’s Saudi owners were called on today to make an unequivocal stand against discrimination everywhere in the world.

Newcastle United issued a statement on Monday condemning an alleged racist gesture by one of the club’s fans towards Tottenham supporters on Sunday.

“Our message is clear,” the Magpies’ statement reads, “football is for everyone.

“Discrimination has absolutely no place in football, in the street, online or in wider society, and we will not tolerate it under any circumstances.”

Fair Game, a group of 31 football clubs campaigning for better governance of football, welcomed Newcastle’s announcement but urged the club’s owners to take a look in the mirror.

The campaign’s director of engagement Natalie Atkinson said: “Racism, sexism and homophobia have no place in modern football. And our manifesto calls for clubs to fully embed diversity and inclusion.

“However, Newcastle can and should go even further.

“Their new chairman is hugely linked to the appalling treatment of women and the LGBTQI community in Saudi Arabia.

“It is a brush that is tarnishing the fine reputation of Newcastle fans.

“Fair Game urges Yasir al-Rumayyan to make a public statement condemning the acts of discrimination in his home country and pledging to reverse the draconian and prejudicial laws there.

“Newcastle United have a unique opportunity to make a powerful global stand. Fair Game calls on al-Rumayyan to grasp it.

“Until he does so, then the statement announced yesterday will continue to reek of hypocrisy.”

Premier League clubs voted at an emergency meeting on Monday night in favour of implementing a one-month ban on teams agreeing sponsorship deals linked to their owners.

Saudi Arabia’s state sovereign wealth fund owns 80 per cent of Newcastle after the club’s reported £305 million takeover was confirmed on October 7.

The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, is listed as chair of the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), but the Premier League was satisfied the state would have no dealings with the club.

Premier League financial fair play rules allow clubs to make maximum losses of £105m over a rolling three-year period.

Artificially inflated commercial deals are seen as one way of increasing club revenues to allow them to navigate financial fair play rules and spend more than allowed.

A United Nations report said the Saudi state was responsible for the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the country’s consulate in Turkey in October 2018.

A declassified US intelligence report published in February concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the chair of the PIF, had likely approved the killing or capture of Khashoggi.

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