Amnesty say Newcastle's Saudi shirt 'clear evidence' of sportswashing
Newcastle could begin their first season since the PIF takeover with a Saudi-inspired away shirt.
Amnesty International say that Newcastle adopting the same colours as Saudi Arabia for next season's away kit would be 'clear evidence' of sportswashing.
Leaked images claiming to show the Premier League club's away kit for the 2022/23 season were circulated online last week. They showed a white shirt with green trim, a design similar to that of the Saudi national team.
Newcastle were taken over by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) last October after the Premier League approved the deal having been given assurances the club would not be controlled by the Saudi state. Questions have persisted over the link between the PIF and the Saudi state ever since.
Amnesty on Newcastle's rumoured Saudi away shirt.
Amnesty have warned that the shirt would be a clear example of Saudi using Newcastle to 'portray a positive image'.
"If it is true that Newcastle United is changing its away kit to match Saudi Arabia’s national colours, it exposes the power of the Saudi dollar and the kingdom’s determination to sportswash its brutal, blood-soaked human rights record," Felix Jakens, Amnesty International UK’s head of campaigns, is quoted as saying by The Guardian.
"Despite all their assurances of a separation between the Saudi owners and the club this seems like clear evidence of the regime using Newcastle to portray a positive image.
"Everyone, from fans to champions, needs to resist being part of Saudi Arabia’s propaganda drive, be aware of what is going on there and speak out about the government’s abuses: the mass executions, (the journalist Jamal) Khashoggi’s murder and dire situation for LGBTI+ people."
"Sport must not be allowed to be used like this."
Messi criticised for Saudi deal.
The leaks came in the same week that Lionel Messi was criticised for becoming a brand ambassador for Saudi tourism.
Last year, when reports of a potential deal between Messi and Visit Saudi first emerged, the Paris Saint-Germain forward was urged to 'stand up for human rights and say no to the butchers of Jamal Khashoggi' in an open letter penned by the families of Saudi Arabian prisoners of conscience.
Despite this, a photo showing him holidaying in Jeddah appeared on his Instagram account last week. The post, sponsored by Visit Saudi, would suggest he has ignored the pleas.