Newcastle United sponsors have been accused of ‘turning a blind eye to homophobia’ with their silence on the Saudi-led takeover of the club.
Gay and lesbian campaign groups have called companies such as Carling and Pulman Volkswagen hypocritical for claiming they support diversity, but partnering with a club that has received an “influx of blood-spattered cash.”
TO Mail on sunday The survey found that at least eight of the club’s corporate members claim to value diversity or equal opportunity, yet only one of them responded to requests for comment on the Newcastle acquisition by the Public Investment Fund (PIF). ), whose president is Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin. Salman.
Newcastle was sold to a consortium consisting of the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media (pictured: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman)
Bin Salman is also the political leader of a country that criminalizes the LGBTQ community and where same-sex intimacy can be punishable by death.
Only one sponsor offered a response when asked if they felt comfortable being closely aligned with the Saudi regime, which turned out to be an accessory to the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“When a company places its logo on a team jersey or sponsor board, it is aligning itself with the entire club – the players, the fans and the owners,” said Bev Jackson, co-founder of the LGB Alliance. So when a club is partially or majority owned by homophobic regimes or those linked to them, the sponsors cannot claim that they did not know it or that it is irrelevant.
“Almost all companies these days take care to polish their environmental, social and governance credentials. But when they turn a blind eye to homophobia, they scoff at any pretense of being good corporate citizens. If a club were owned by an outspoken racist, sponsors would leave in droves. It seems that companies sponsoring clubs with homophobic investors think they can live with this. ‘
CARLING, Newcastle’s ‘Official Service Partner’, was asked on their homepage if they felt their relationship with the club contradicted their LGBTQ soccer team, Black Country Fusion.
They also contacted Molson Coors, the owners of Carling, to establish whether they would reconsider their deal with Newcastle given that they have celebrated the fifth year of their Tap to Change program which donates a portion of sales to LGBTQ organizations.
The inauguration has been savage, with supporters of Crystal Palace protesting with a large banner.
Other sponsors defend workers’ rights. The Pulman Group was asked if they had concerns about their relationship when their website includes a statement against modern slavery despite Amnesty International reporting that “ millions of migrant workers are governed by a system of kafala that gives employers powers of attorney. disproportionate to them and prevents them from leaving the country. country or change jobs without your employer’s permission. ‘
Bet365, Newcastle’s “Official Betting Partner”, states on their careers page that they “constantly ensure that we provide an environment in which our employees can thrive and enjoy their working lives.”
Saudi Arabia has long faced criticism for women’s rights. Women were not allowed to enter sports stadiums until 2018 and only this year were they allowed to live alone without permission from a male guardian.
Former owner Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct was also contacted to see if they had concerns about ties to the Saudi regime after they commissioned his It’s time for equal pay report ‘promoting gender equality in sport’.
Salman’s alleged role in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi has caused a stir in football
Both Bet365 and the shirt sponsor Fun88 are betting companies, something that is prohibited in Saudi Arabia. Fun88 said it was “none of his business” when asked by the Financial Times for his views last year when the acquisition was first raised.
Until now, fans from other clubs have made their voices heard. Crystal Palace fans held up a banner inside Selhurst Park a week ago that showed a man in Saudi clothing raising a scimitar over the head of a magpie while Premier League CEO Richard Masters stood in the middle of a smudge. of bloody money.
The police took no action after a complaint was filed, while the FA decided not to intervene. “The Premier League is quick to condemn those who threaten its business interests,” added Jackson. “But when high-profile homophobes invest in clubs, they remain silent.”
Many LGBTQ supporter groups do not align with the LGB Alliance, with strong criticism of their views on transgender rights.
Last week Newcastle were one of many who praised Australian footballer Josh Cavallo for becoming the first openly gay male footballer. “A powerful and inspiring message,” the club wrote on Twitter. ‘Soccer is for everyone. Newcastle United is with you, Josh.
Many LGBTQ people accused the club of hypocrisy seeing such a message in the context of its Saudi ownership.
Amanda Staveley (right) and Mehrdad Ghodoussi (left) are two of Newcastle’s new directors
Newcastle will face more charges next month when it participates in the Rainbow Laces campaign. However, Newcastle’s LGBTQ supporter group United With Pride said it was glad to see the club post its support for Cavallo and said it had received no concerns from members since taking office.
“We understand everyone’s views and there are times when people from certain countries are not going to sit quietly with people,” United With Pride Secretary Mark Betham said. We have concerns about (that), but what we want to do is keep working with the club to make sure they are doing what they need to do to help increase visibility. We understand that there is still a lot of work to be done. ‘
But the most important questions are those of the Premier League, which ratified the inauguration. They still refuse to answer you.
“More than 30 years after Justin Fashanu made history, not one top footballer has come out as gay,” says Jackson. ‘If the Premier League wants its own Josh Cavallo, it will need more than Rainbow Laces. The Premier League must show they are serious by publicly condemning homophobic investors, including those from regimes that kill gays. ”