News of a Saudi deal to take over Newcastle United Football Club has sparked very mixed reactions amongst social media users, with many hailing the deal and hoping it will boost the club's performance once games are resumed. Others however, are expressing concern over the new owner's record of human rights violations.
According to @NUFCTakeover1 this is how the owner rich list of the premier league would rank— Newcastle Utd Takeover News (@NUFCTakeover1) April 16, 2020
4. Chelsea – Roman Abramovich (£9.6bn)
3. Newcastle - Reuben Brothers (18bn)
2. Man City – Sheikh Mansour (£23.3bn)
1. Newcastle – Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund (£260bn)#NUFC.
Several reports have emerged lately hinting at a potential Saudi deal to buy the English football club, triggering football and NUFC fans to wonder how such a move will affect the club's results in the future.
Some of the English football club enthusiasts expressed their excitement to have their favorite sports team supported by such a well-off owner, suggesting that generous management will definitely help the club compete for the first ranks in the next competitions.
Many of the club supporters showed their support for the deal that hasn't yet been confirmed by adding the Saudi flag next to their Twitter user names.
The Saudi Prince, Staveley and Rafa Benitez as manager?— Rafa Facts (@FactsRafa) April 14, 2020
There’s only one place Newcastle are heading⚫️⚪️??? pic.twitter.com/dpI5ZXtKLv
Similarly, Saudi football fans took to Twitter to announce that they will start supporting Newcastle United from now on as it will soon be owned by them.
The Saudi move has been considered yet another attempt by its government to diversify economic resources, according to the Saudi plan to gradually limit its heavy dependence on the oil industry.
Yet, many users who are concerned with the Saudi record of human and women's rights warn that the Saudi move could be a "sportswashing" aiming to put the country's reputation in a more positive light than the one it's been linked to in recent years.
Is #SaudiArabia using cover of #COVID to scoop up #Newcastle?— Minky Worden (@MinkysHighjinks) April 17, 2020
Reasons fans should be concerned:
—Saudi’s brutal war in #Yemen
—No justice for murder @washingtonpost journalist Jamal Khashoggi
—Still jailing top women’s rights activists
Sportswashing! https://t.co/Yc62E7ce9j pic.twitter.com/6hdpkoYVu1
Many commentators pointed at the Kingdom's violations of human and women rights in addition to what they described as "war crimes" committed during the 5-year-old war in Yemen.
The number of Newcastle fans with Saudi Arabian flags in their twitter bios alone is evidence of the effect of sportswashing.— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) April 16, 2020
Some users also noted that with the historical crash in the oil sector shocking the world on 20th April, Saudi Arabia may no longer be willing to buy the football club as it's expected to face a mounting economic crisis pressured by the coronavirus outbreak and the plunging energy prices.
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