Newcastle accused of 'act of monumental trolling' with new Saudi Arabia-coloured kit

·2-min read
Newcastle's Saudi-inspired kit - Newcastle accused of 'act of monumental trolling' with new Saudi Arabia-coloured kit - TWITTER/aycazehraakcay
Newcastle's Saudi-inspired kit - Newcastle accused of 'act of monumental trolling' with new Saudi Arabia-coloured kit - TWITTER/aycazehraakcay

Newcastle United were on Friday accused of an act of “monumental trolling” over a new Saudi Arabia-style kit – as plans for them to launch one unravelled spectacularly.

The proposed move was both ridiculed and condemned by MPs, the fiancée of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi and human-rights campaigners following the leaking of the white and green-trimmed Castore strip online.

There is nothing in the Premier League rules to prevent the launch of such a kit, despite it risking undermining the legally-binding assurances given during the Saudi-led takeover of Newcastle that the Middle East kingdom would not control the club.

Julian Knight MP, the chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media & Sport select committee, told the Telegraph: “Part of me thinks this shows an unexpected sense of humour from the new owners of Newcastle United as it appears to be an act of monumental trolling of the Premier League’s so-called legally binding assurances.”

Hatice Cengiz, who had been due to marry Khashoggi before his brutal murder in 2018 at the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, said: “The insensitivity of using the symbols and colours of the Saudi state and the Crown Prince on the football field is deeply shocking. Now we can see sportswashing in action.

'Where will it end?'

“Despite all the ‘assurances’ given when the Saudi fund took over, in the first season they are starting to push their real agenda. The Crown Prince is blatantly using sport to try to improve his legitimacy and popularity at home and abroad. The UK authorities, the Football Association and the Premier League must stop this now. Otherwise, where will it end?”

Amnesty International said: “If it is true, it exposes the power of the Saudi dollar and the kingdom’s determination to sportswash its brutal, blood-soaked human-rights record.

“Everyone 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, Khashoggi’s murder and dire situations for LGBTI+ people. Sport must not be allowed to be used like this.”

Nick McGeehan, founding director of FairSquare and a former senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, added: “The legally-binding assurances were clearly nonsense from the start, and the Saudis either think the Premier League are credulous or too interested in their millions to care much about their intention to use Newcastle as a promotional vehicle for the state.”

Newcastle, Castore and the Premier League all declined to comment.

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