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14th Mar 2022

Amnesty International urges Eddie Howe to speak out on Saudi ownership

Daniel Brown

‘We would like him and others to be able to speak up about that’

Amnesty International has urged Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe to speak up about human rights violations in Saudi Arabia after 81 people were executed in the Gulf state.

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.

Howe 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.

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.”

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.

While Newcastle and the Premier League insist the PIF is independent from the Gulf state itself, its chairman is Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who is also Deputy Prime Minister.

Now, Amnesty International’s head of campaigns, Felix Jakens, has called on anyone involved with the Magpies to ‘be aware’ of the issues.

“Ultimately, Eddie Howe isn’t the decision-maker on who should own Newcastle United. But he is the football manager,” Jakens told Sky Sports News:

“What we would urge him and anyone involved with the club to do is to be aware of these issues. 81 people were beheaded in Saudi Arabia over the weekend. We would like him and others to be able to speak up about that.

“He is not the person who makes overall decisions about the ownership, but he does have a voice to speak up about these issues”.

Speaking about Newcastle’s ownership, Jakens added: “The relationship between the PIF and the Saudi state is extremely close and it doesn’t really hold up to scrutiny that there would be any kind of independence.

“Mohammed Bin Salman, who is effectively the overall ruler of Saudi Arabia, is the chair also for the PIF. It is almost certain he has the final say on any investment decisions.

“We also know that his Saudi Vision 2030, which is bankrolled by the PIF, is to invest in sport inside and outside of Saudia Arabia, so the idea that there is a firewall between the two, doesn’t hold up to scrutiny”.

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

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