‘Sportswashing’: Man City owners accused of using club to ‘clean up UAE’s tarnished image’
German publication Der Spiegel has published a series of reports in recent weeks, based on allegations brought about by a platform called Football Leaks, which suggest that the club has spent the better part of the last decade attempting to bypass Financial Fair Play (FFP) laws by way of accepting inflated sponsorships, and other such practices. Manchester City have denied these allegations.
One such sponsorship deal with Arabtec, the biggest construction company in the United Arab Emirates, has come under fire for the company’s poor treatment of immigrant workers, according to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
The Der Spiegel reports say that the club ignored protests from their own internal public relations office to sign the bumper £7 million (US$9 million) per annum deal in 2014. Arabtec is no longer listed as one of Manchester City’s partners in the area.
“The UAE’s enormous investment in Manchester City is one of football’s most brazen attempts to ‘sportswash’ a country’s deeply tarnished image through the glamour of the game,” said Devin Kenney, Amnesty International’s Gulf researcher, per the Guardian.
“As a growing number of Manchester City fans will be aware, the success of the club has involved a close relationship with a country that relies on exploited migrant labor and locks up peaceful critics and human rights defenders.”
Further Der Spiegel reports state that the club sold players’ image rights to a company run by owner Sheikh Mansour, and that former manager Roberto Mancini was given a ‘consultation’ position with Al Jazira, a club also owned by Sheikh Mansour, to further boost the Italian’s annual salary.