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Newcastle takeover becomes a proxy war between Qatar and Saudi Arabia

Newcastle takeover becomes a proxy war between Qatar and Saudi Arabia

Posted April. 23, 2020 07:33,   

Updated April. 23, 2020 07:33


Human rights organization Amnesty International and Qatar have criticized the Saudi Arabian takeover of Newcastle United of the English Premier League (EPL).

In a letter sent to EPL Chief Executive Richard Masters, Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said Saudi Arabia wants to “use the glamour and prestige of Premier League football” to cover up human rights violation issues, according to BBC on Wednesday. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 35, has been suspected of being the mastermind behind the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was critical of the prince, in Istanbul, Turkey in 2018.

The Public Investment Fund (PIF), whose chairman is Mohammad bin Salman, has around 230 billion pounds worth of assets. It is 10 times the net worth of Sheikh Mansour, the owner of Manchester City and one of EPL’s wealthiest owners. The PIF is set to buy 80% of Newcastle United at 340 million pounds and is waiting for EPL’s approval.

Qatar-based beIN Sport, which exclusively broadcasts all EPL games in Middle East, sent a letter to the chairs of 20 EPL clubs, asking to block PIF’s takeover of Newcastle United. The beIN Sport said Saudi Arabia has caused extensive financial damage through its backing of a pirate service. Saudi Arabia, however, is denying all accusations.

The New York Times said PIF’s takeover of Newcastle has been developing into a proxy war between Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Won-Hong Lee bluesky@donga.com