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23 Oct, 2021 18:42

Cultural appreciation: Newcastle say fans CAN wear Arab-style garb in U-turn on tributes to Saudi owners

Cultural appreciation: Newcastle say fans CAN wear Arab-style garb in U-turn on tributes to Saudi owners

Premier League club Newcastle United have backtracked after having previously asked fans not to attend matchdays in Arabic or Middle-East-inspired clothes following a $420 million takeover by a Saudi consortium.

The northeast club released a statement on Wednesday where it said it was "kindly asking supporters to refrain from wearing traditional Arabic clothing or Middle East-inspired head coverings at matches if they would not ordinarily wear such attire".

"No-one among the new ownership group was in any way offended by the attire of the fans who chose to celebrate in this way," it continued.

"However, there remains the possibility that dressing this way is culturally inappropriate and risks causing offense to others."

Also on rt.com Newcastle ask fans to avoid ‘Arabic or Middle-East-inspired clothes’ to curb ‘risk of causing offence, cultural inappropriateness’

"All visitors to the club are, as always, encouraged to wear whatever is the norm for their own culture or religion, continuing to reflect the broad and rich multi-cultural communities and groups from which the club proudly draws its support," finished the correspondence, as Twitter posts related to the matter were full of replies from Saudis who similarly said they hadn't felt put out by the tribute.

"Of course the owners weren’t offended. And we the people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are not offended, nor do we find it culturally inappropriate at all," balked a well-followed Saudi Twitter user, who found the announcement "very, very disappointing".

"So a question arises, 'risk causing offense to others'. Who are these 'others' if not the Saudis?"

On Saturday, however, as struggling Newcastle earned another well-needed point away at Crystal Palace, the club backtracked and published a follow-up press release.

"The new owners have been overwhelmed by the welcome of the local community, following the acquisition of the club two weeks ago," it began.

"The fans who have celebrated by wearing culturally traditional clothing, including head coverings, have been part of that welcome.

"Those who wish to support the club by wearing appropriate culturally-inspired clothing should feel free to do so as they see fit. We are inclusive to all.

"To reiterate what we said previously, neither the club nor its new owners were offended by attire worn, and appreciate the overt statements of support and acceptance by our great fans," it finished, before adding that the new ownership will continue "to support the Premier League's initiatives on diversity and inclusion, including No Room for Racism" while thanking the fans for their "incredible support".

Reaction to this included positive responses, but what also caused a stir on Saturday was a banner held up by opposition fans at Selhurst Park during the 1-1 draw.

Taking a dig at the Premier League's fit and proper person's test in cartoon form, it reeled off a list of subjects such as terrorism, beheadings, civil rights abuses and murder that the Saudi leadership is accused of. 

"The Saudi led takeover of Newcastle has rightly received widespread condemnation and anger. It is clear the P.I.F [Saudi Public Investment fund] is a front for the tyrannical ruling Saudi regime and by endorsing this, the Premier League has made a mockery of its own 'Owners and Directors' test," began a statement from the Holmesdale Fanatics supporters group. 

"The Premier League has chosen money over morals and in green lighting this deal, has done business with one of the world's most bloody and repressive regimes. 

"A country controlled by fear where women are second-class citizens, same-sex partnerships banned, journalists silenced,  imprisoned or killed and 'dissidents' brutally persecuted now has a foothold in our national game.

"To give the 'thumbs up' to this deal at a time when the Premier League is promoting the women's game and inclusive initiatives such as rainbow armbands, shows the total hypocrisy at play and demonstrates the League's soulless agenda where profits trump all.

"Newcastle, as a team, is now being used to sportswash the blood from the hands of a corrupt governance and deluded supporters should consider that reality when singing of 'getting their club back'. We are lucky to live in a country where we can display a banner such as this without repercussion. Many in Saudi Arabia wish they were afforded those," it finished.

Also on rt.com Fans who greeted Saudi owners with mock headdresses could be given ‘education workshops’ on cultural offensiveness and stereotypes