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13th Mar 2022

Eddie Howe says he’ll “stick to football” when asked about Saudi executions

Simon Lloyd

“I’m still bitterly disappointed about the result…”

Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe again insisted he would not be commenting on matters outside of football, after he was asked after his side’s 1-0 defeat to Chelsea about a mass execution in Saudi Arabia.

Newcastle were taken over by Saudi’s Public Investment Fund earlier in the season and Howe, who was appointed in November, has regularly faced questions about the kingdom’s human rights record since becoming manager.

Saudi state media reported on Saturday that 81 men had been put to death for crimes ranging from killings to alleged ties with terrorist organisations – the largest mass execution in Saudi’s modern history.

Eddie Howe sticking firmly to football

Tariq Panja of the New York Times asked Howe about the executions in his post-match press conference at Stamford Bridge, where Newcastle had been beaten to a late goal by Kai Havertz.

“I’m just going to stick to football,” Howe replied. “I’m still bitterly disappointed about the result.”

Panja noted, after that exchange with Howe, that the next question the Newcastle boss was asked about was a yellow card decision during the game.

The game at Chelsea came at the end of a week which saw the London club’s future plunged into uncertainty after outgoing owner Roman Abramovich was hit with sanctions by the UK government.

Several football clubs had moved to distance themselves from Russian sponsors and wealthy individuals following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, prompting Howe to face questions about the integrity of his club’s owners last week.

Again, the former Bournemouth manager repeated that his focus was coaching his players.

Speaking before the game, Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel admitted he was uncertain about the future following the turmoil of the last week.

“No one knows what’s coming,” he told Sky Sports.

“One week ago, the statement was clear that the club was not for sale, one week later it is obviously [for sale].

“So, if anyone tells me today ‘this is what’s going to happen’ I will not trust them 100 per cent because we need to be flexible and things turn out to be crazy enough to be upside down one day later.

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