– Amnesty International welcomed the decision of the Premier League to meet and discuss a revised, human rights-compliant owners’ and directors’ test following the takeover of Newcastle United, saying the current rules are “woefully inadequate”.
Newcastle were sold to a group consisting of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media earlier this month. PIF is chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Before the takeover was announced, Amnesty International urged the league to change its owners’ and directors’ test to address human rights issues and prevent “sportswashing”.
“We’re pleased the Premier League is willing to talk about these proposals as a starting point for what we hope will be a process that leads to considerable strengthening of the rules on football governance,” Amnesty International said in a statement.
“The current rules concerning who owns and runs English football clubs are woefully inadequate, with no bar on ownership for those complicit in acts of torture, slavery, human trafficking or even war crimes.
“The Saudi buyout of Newcastle always looked like an attempt to sportswash Saudi Arabia’s appalling human rights record with the glamour and prestige of the Premier League and top-flight football.”
The Premier League insisted it received “legally binding” assurances there was clear separation between PIF and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia’s government denies allegations of human rights abuses and says that it is protecting national security from extremists and external actors.
“… There is now huge disquiet over the cynical use of English football to sportswash human rights abuse,” Amnesty added.