We are calling on the Premier League to adopt a human rights policy after the sale of Newcastle United FC to Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, chaired by the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was halted.
The Saudi regime uses torture, capital punishment, and intimidation to suppress free speech and silence dissent.
It is almost two years since Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post, was tortured to death inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, as punishment for telling the truth about his country.
For the Premier League to allow this sale to have happened would have been to forgive that crime, and to enable sportswashing (using sport to improve reputation) by a torturing state.
Following the withdrawal of the Saudi Arabia sovereign wealth fund from the sale, we are writing to the Premier League with two demands:
- Introduce a comprehensive Human Rights Policy into the Premier League. FIFA has one – it’s time the Premier League had one too.
- Produce annual public reporting on human rights due diligence practices, and require all Premier League clubs to do the same.
The Premier League is one of Britain’s finest exports.
Watched by billions of people all over the world, it is uniquely placed to provide leadership on ethical conduct both on and off the pitch. That’s why its recent support for the Black Lives Matter movement has been so important: it sends a powerful message to all corners of the globe.
But the plans to allow the sale of Newcastle United FC to Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund would send an entirely different message: that torture, rights abuses and the restriction of free speech are acceptable.
It is time for the Premier League to make it clear that torture has no place in football.