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7 Oct, 2021 12:11

‘Say no to murder’: Activists and widow of slain journalist Khashoggi in desperate late bid to halt Saudi takeover of Newcastle

‘Say no to murder’: Activists and widow of slain journalist Khashoggi in desperate late bid to halt Saudi takeover of Newcastle

Amnesty International has made calls for the Premier League to alter its owners' and directors' test, with the widow of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi voicing opposition to the Saudi-backed takeover of Newcastle United.

The takeover of Newcastle led by the Saudi sovereign Public Investment Fund (PIF), which will reportedly provide 80% of total funds for the mooted £300 million ($408 million) deal, is tipped to go ahead as early as Thursday after an alleged piracy dispute with beIN Sports in Qatar was finally resolved, as were issues over who would ultimately be running the club. 

And even though a consortium would take over the reins, and supposedly not the Saudi state, Amnesty International say that the latter's human rights abuses must prove a make-or-break factor in whether the takeover goes ahead while also highlighting the kingdom's alleged sportswashing. 

"Instead of allowing those implicated in serious human rights violations to walk into English football simply because they have deep pockets, we've urged the Premier League to change their owners' and directors' test to address human rights issues," confirmed its chief executive Sacha Deshmukh.

Also on rt.com Saudi takeover of Premier League club Newcastle ‘expected to go through’ after Qatar drops broadcaster ban placed on Gulf state

"The phrase 'human rights' doesn't even appear in the owners' and directors' test despite English football supposedly adhering to FIFA standards. We've sent the Premier League a suggested new human rights-compliant test and we reiterate our call on them to overhaul their standards on this," Deshmukh went on. 

"As with Formula One, elite boxing, golf or tennis, an association with top-tier football is a very attractive means of rebranding a country or person with a tarnished reputation. The Premier League needs to better understand the dynamic of sportswashing and tighten its ownership rules."

While many long-suffering Newcastle United fans have demanded that current owner Mike Ashley's 14-year rule is brought to an end for quite some time, another party has voiced opposition to the changing of the guard.

Hatice Cengiz has once again spoken to the British press, with her fiancee Jamal Khashoggi, a general manager and editor-in-chief for the Al-Arab News Channel in addition to a columnist for The Washington Post, allegedly murdered and dismembered by government agents at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in 2018 on the orders of the Crown Prince. 

"Only a few days after the third anniversary of Jamal’s murder, it is horrifying to learn that the Crown Prince is on the brink of getting what he wants: to wash his reputation, and sully the name of sports," she told The Telegraph.

"I ask what has now suddenly changed? There is still no justice for Jamal’s murder.

"I urge the Premier League not to cave in now – this is the moment to show courage and principle. It will show the killers they cannot wash away their crimes. The League needs to lead by example for football fans and all people to say no to murder," she demanded.

But to the same paper, a source who tried to derail the takeover last year claimed that "there is now nothing legally stopping" it.

"The legal issue will be resolved; so it simply becomes a moral question for the Premier League," it was concluded.