Amnesty: Newcastle kit bearing Saudi colors is sportswashing
Next season's away kit could be white and green, according to leaked images.
Amnesty International has stated that Newcastle United wearing the colors of Saudi Arabia's national football team on their away shirt next season would be "clear evidence" of Gulf regime sportswashing.
On Thursday night, images purporting to show Newcastle's uniforms for the upcoming season, the first full season under the majority ownership of the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), were leaked online.
Although photos showed the home colors as black and white, the away colors were white with green trim, the same as the Saudi national team and a combination never worn by the Premier League side.
Since the Premier League approved a takeover last October, there have been concerns about PIF's proximity to the Saudi state. The league said it had assurances that Saudi Arabia would not have control of Newcastle, but Amnesty International said the images suggested otherwise.
On his account, Amnesty International UK’s head of campaigns Felix Jakens said: “If it is true that Newcastle United is changing its away kit to match Saudi Arabia’s national colors, it exposes the power of the Saudi dollar and the kingdom’s determination to sportswash its brutal, blood-soaked human rights record.”
“Despite all their assurances of a separation between the Saudi owners and the club, this seems like clear evidence of the regime using Newcastle to portray a positive image”.
“Everyone – from fans to champions – needs to resist being part of Saudi Arabia’s propaganda drive, be aware of what is going on there and speak out about the government’s abuses: the mass executions, and [the journalist Jamal] Khashoggi’s murder.”
It is also worth mentioning that Newcastle had just appointed the Saudi Golf Federation's chief executive, Majed al-Sorour, to their board.
Sorour's Golf Saudi project has hired Greg Norman to design a course near Riyadh, and the PIF is a major supporter of the Australian's contentious LIV Golf invitational series.
This week, Norman called Khashoggi's murder, which US authorities believe was sanctioned by Saudi ruler Mohammed bin Salman, a "mistake."
From acquiring clubs to investing in billions of dollars and hosting international events, Saudi Arabia has been using sports and sporting events to whitewash its crimes against humanity, most notably its aggression in Yemen.