Police investigation into accusations of racism after Crystal Palace fan group SLAM, Saudi owners of Newcastle
Anger erupted today over a Met Police racism investigation on a banner opposing the Saudi-backed takeover of Newcastle United.
Human rights activists do not believe that the police are investigating a banner from Crystal Palace fans highlighting human rights atrocities in the Gulf state.
The banner accused the Saudi regime, supporters of the multi-million dollar takeover, of murder, terrorism and beheadings, and attacked the evidence of the owners and directors of the Premier League.
But police say they are investigating the gory image, which was held up by the Palace’s group of supporters, the Holmesdale Fanatics, during Newcastle’s 1-1 draw with London’s south side at Selhurst Park on Saturday.
Human rights activists today criticized the investigation, saying that criticism of the Saudi regime should not be considered racist.
Others have warned that probing those banners could “undermine” the fight against real racism in football.
One of those criticizing the research is Sunder Katwala, director of the British Future think tank on racial equality.
He said the Telegraph: ‘The police should be able to establish that there is nothing to investigate. It is a caricature of an identifiable individual.
‘It is a strong condemnation of the Saudi regime and the murder of a journalist and a criticism of the Saudi state. That is political speech.
Crystal Palace fan group The Holmesdale Fanatics attacked Newcastle owners led by Saudi Arabia
Directors Amanda Staveley and Mehrdad Ghodoussi were in attendance at Selhurst Park.
Newcastle backtracked on their statement about fans wearing Arab dress to matches
“I do not think that a criticism of the ruler of Saudi Arabia can be said to be a racist abuse.
“It is important to look for racism and hate speech in football, but it undermines efforts to address it if the police start calling things racist abuse that are part of free speech and political comment.”
Meanwhile, Nicholas McGeehan, director of the human rights consultancy FairSquare, said: “The banner is the kind of cutting political satire that the UK can rightly be proud of.
‘The Crystal Palace fans who did it deserve nothing but credit.
“We should not repress our rights and freedoms for which he fought so hard to avoid the sentiments of the Saudi state or Newcastle fans who desperately want to believe that criticism of human rights abuses by Saudis is racist.”
“He clearly attributes the abuses to the Saudi state and not to the Saudis in general,” McGeehan said.
“But if people are going to be offended when people lampoon that in a creative way, there is nothing that the police should investigate.”
Police said they had received complaints that the mural was “offensive.” “Officers are conducting investigations,” said the Croydon Metropolitan Police. “Accusations of racist abuse will be taken seriously.”
Holmesdale fans, a group of Crystal Palace fans, condemned Newcastle’s recent takeover and displayed the banner in the stands during the match between the two sides.
Palace and Newcastle played a 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park as the visitors earned their first Premier League point of their new era, but it was off the field that the most notable action occurred.
The Saudi-led Newcastle owners were the subject of a protest by a section of Palace fans, who criticized the Premier League’s decision to allow the inauguration to take place by drawing attention to the actions of the Saudi regime. .
The statement read: ‘The Saudi-led takeover of Newcastle has rightly received widespread condemnation and anger. It is clear that the PIF is a front for the tyrannical ruling Saudi regime and in backing this, the Premier League has mocked its own “owners and directors” test.
“The Premier League has chosen money over morality and, by giving the green light to this deal, has done business with one of the bloodiest and most repressive regimes in the world.
“A fear-controlled country where women are second-class citizens, same-sex couples forbidden, journalists silenced, imprisoned or murdered, and brutally persecuted ‘dissidents’ now has a foothold in our national game.
‘Giving the thumbs up’ to this deal at a time when the Premier League is promoting the women’s game and inclusive initiatives like rainbow bracelets, shows the utter hypocrisy at stake and demonstrates the League’s heartless agenda where profits triumph above all.
Holmesdale Fanatics criticized the Premier League’s ‘utter hypocrisy’ for allowing the takeover
“Newcastle, as a team, are now being used to wash the blood off the hands of a corrupt government and deluded fans must consider that reality when they sing about ‘getting your club back.’
“We are lucky to live in a country where we can display a banner like this without repercussions. Many in Saudi Arabia wish they had. ”
Earlier in the week, Newcastle urged fans not to wear Arab clothing to matches, after hundreds of fans did exactly that at St James’ Park against Tottenham in the opening match after the inauguration.
It happened when it emerged that Kick It Out was planning to meet Newcastle and encourage them to ask fans not to wear kitchen towels on their heads as a way to celebrate their new owners.
The club said: “Newcastle United are kindly asking their supporters to refrain from wearing traditional Arab clothing or Middle East inspired head covers in matches if they do not normally wear such attire.”
However, they have now backtracked on that in a new statement, suggesting that the club’s new owners have instead viewed the fans’ attire as a warm welcome and a way of showing support.
“Fans who have celebrated by wearing culturally traditional clothing, including head covering, have been part of that welcome,” the club said.
‘Those who wish to support the club by wearing appropriate culture-inspired clothing should feel free to do so as they see fit. We are inclusive for everyone.
“To reiterate what we said earlier, neither the club nor its new owners were offended by the clothing worn, and we appreciate the open statements of support and acceptance from our great fans.”