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Criticism of Newcastle fans wearing Arab-style clothing shows double standards in football

Earlier this week, the influential charity Kick It Out contacted Newcastle United seeking urgent talks about the fact that some of their supporters had worn Arab costumes in last Sunday’s game against Spurs.

It may seem surprising that Kick It Out, which campaigns for equity and inclusion in soccer, had nothing to say about the takeover of the club by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, a group chaired by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

He, of course, is the unelected ruler of an authoritarian regime that murders dissident journalists, imprisons women’s rights activists, and tortures political opponents.

Concerns were raised about Newcastle fans wearing Arab costumes

Concerns were raised about Newcastle fans wearing Arab costumes

It came after the controversial takeover of Newcastle by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, chaired by Mohammed bin Salman (pictured).

It came after the controversial takeover of Newcastle by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, chaired by Mohammed bin Salman (pictured).

It came after the controversial takeover of Newcastle by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, chaired by Mohammed bin Salman (pictured).

It’s not exactly fair or inclusive behavior, but apparently it’s not Kick It Out’s business.

However, the moment a handful of Toon fans decided to have a bit of fun donning traditional Arabian robes and headdresses, the lobbyist, and a host of other commentators, jumped into action. The charity has offered to host “educational workshops” for these wandering supporters, teaching them why these cultural stereotypes are inappropriate and offensive.

This is typical of double standards in today’s game, where it is a rule for bettors and another for club executives and billionaire owners.

Earlier this year, the Free Speech Union, the organization I lead, came to the aid of a fan of a known team who had been banned from further games because he booed players who knelt.

This was despite the fact that this club, like almost every other Premier League team, has promoted few people of color to top management positions and has never had a black coach. We got the ban lifted and advised you to keep your feelings to yourself in the future, but it’s not easy when the hypocrisy is so evident from the stands.

There has also been little criticism from leading figures in the game for the decision to host next year's World Cup in Qatar.

There has also been little criticism from leading figures in the game for the decision to host next year's World Cup in Qatar.

There has also been little criticism from leading figures in the game for the decision to host next year’s World Cup in Qatar.

Soccer stadiums across the country never miss an opportunity to publicize their support for LGBT rights, but few major figures in the sport have criticized the decision to host the next World Cup in Qatar, where homosexuals can be imprisoned for up to three years.

Newcastle players will no doubt express their solidarity with LGBT people on December 8, which the Stonewall charity has designated as ‘Rainbow Laces Day’, conveniently overlooking the fact that homosexuality is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia.

When it comes to these gestures, I agree with Les Ferdinand, director of football at QPR, the team I support. “Now it’s no different than a fancy hashtag or a nice badge,” he said last year. “Getting on your knees will not bring changes in the game, but the actions.”

Unfortunately, the only “action” Newcastle has been asked to do is to punish fans who disguise themselves as Arabs. In response to pressure from the awakened lobby, the club issued a statement saying that dressing in Middle Eastern costumes is ‘culturally inappropriate and may offend others’, although it at least refuted that yesterday, saying fans were welcome to wear. what they like.

Kick it Out had nothing to say about the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund's takeover of Newcastle

Kick it Out had nothing to say about the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund's takeover of Newcastle

Kick it Out had nothing to say about the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund’s takeover of Newcastle

It’s a shame that former Newcastle owner Mike Ashley didn’t bother to offend Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered by agents of the Saudi regime, before selling his shares in the club to Mohammed bin Salman.

I fear that football has contracted the same virus that has infected so many other areas of our society, the upside down value system in which pointing out virtue is more important than being virtuous, where being seen doing the right thing matters more than in reality. doing the right thing.

When the FA endorsed the Black Lives Matter movement last year, it was as sincere as Neymar falling into the box and spinning. A bit of theater designed to fool gullible viewers.

There are some beacons of hope. In 2015, QPR appointed Chris Ramsey as head coach, one of six black coaches in the 92 football league clubs at the time, none of them in the Premier League.

And all QPR fans know that black lives matter because we have named our stadium after Kiyan Prince, a member of our youth team who was fatally stabbed in 2006 at age 15. It’s actions like this that bring about positive change, not publicly embarrassing Newcastle. fans because they wear costumes.

Or report Crystal Palace fans to the police for unfurling a banner protesting Newcastle’s Saudi property, which happened in Selhurst Park.

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