Newcastle United will be sticking with their decision to launch an away kit in Saudi Arabian colours, despite a backlash including accusations of it being an attempt to ‘sportswash a blood-soaked human-rights record’.
Sportsmail revealed on Thursday that Eddie Howe’s side are set to turn out in a strip which bears a striking resemblance to the green and white of the Saudi national team next season.
The shirt has been signed off by chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan, who is also governor of Saudi’s Public Investment Fund, the club’s majority owners. But the move has been met with widespread criticism.
Newcastle United will stick with their decision to release a ‘Saudi Arabia’ style away kit
An Amnesty International spokesperson said: ‘If it is true that Newcastle United are changing their away kit to match Saudi Arabia’s national colours, it exposes the power of the Saudi dollar and the kingdom’s determination to sportswash its brutal, blood-soaked human-rights record.
‘Despite 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. Sport must not be allowed to be used like this.’
The shirt has been signed off by chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan, who is also governor of Saudi’s Public Investment Fund, the club’s majority owners
The club’s supporters are split, with many taking to social media in protest.
One said: ‘I hate this, and I’m a huge Newcastle fan. I just can’t get on board with integrating Saudi into our brand and identity.’
But Alex Hurst, host of the True Faith podcast, said: ‘This was to be expected and I don’t have an issue with it. If they changed the home shirt, that would be different.
‘But it would be hypocritical of me to welcome the money they spent on the team in January and then criticise when they want to make a change kit with links to their own country.’
Newcastle have further strengthened their links with Saudi Arabia by appointing Majed Al Sorour to the board of directors
The Premier League can only refuse to sign off on a team’s change kits if they are too similar to the home colours.
Meanwhile, Newcastle have further strengthened their links with Saudi Arabia by appointing Majed Al Sorour to the board of directors.
The former footballer is the chief executive of the Saudi Golf Federation and an adviser to PIF.
Sources say his experience in sports and business will make him a valued addition to the club.