Amnesty International has told the Premier League it needs to “better understand the dynamic of sportswashing” as the expected Saudi Arabian-backed takeover of Newcastle United nears completion.
Premier League approval for the £300 million takeover could arrive on Thursday, after the body was convinced that a consortium, and not the Saudi state, would be in control of the club.
That development allowed the takeover to pass the league’s owners’ and directors’ test.
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However, Amnesty International has urged the Premier League to overhaul those checks and balances to include reference to human rights issues.
"Instead of allowing those implicated in serious human rights violations to walk into English football simply because they have deep pockets, we've urged the Premier League to change their owners' and directors' test to address human rights issues," Amnesty International chief executive, Sacha Deshmukh said.
"The phrase 'human rights' doesn't even appear in the owners' and directors' test despite English football supposedly adhering to Fifa standards. We've sent the Premier League a suggested new human rights-compliant test and we reiterate our call on them to overhaul their standards on this.
The Premier League needs to better understand the dynamic of sportswashing and tighten its ownership rules.
"As with Formula One, elite boxing, golf or tennis, an association with top-tier football is a very attractive means of rebranding a country or person with a tarnished reputation. The Premier League needs to better understand the dynamic of sportswashing and tighten its ownership rules."
On Wednesday, it was reported that Saudi Arabia had come to an agreement with Qatar-based broadcaster beIN Sports, which owns TV rights for the Premier League in the Middle East.
But, as the Public Investment Fund (PIF), which will pay 80 per cent of the funds needed to complete the deal, has been deemed a separate entity to the Saudi state piracy concerns are no longer an obstacle to the takeover.
The proposed takeover would bring to an end Mike Ashley’s often fractious and ill-tempered 14-year reign as Newcastle owner.
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