Sunday, 13 March 2022

Roman Abramovich is an oligarch who made his billions largely due to his connections with war criminals Vladimir Putin and Boris Yeltsin, and was never a fit and proper person to own a football club. Mohammed Bin Salman is not a person with financial ties to a war criminal, he is a war criminal and his charge sheet is sickening.

Some supporters of the club I've supported since I was a boy insist Bin Salman does not own Newcastle United, that the PIF which owns 80% of the club is completely independent of the Saudi Crown Prince. This is frankly bullshit. The PIF is a state savings account for the Saudi Arabian government and most of its money comes from oil sales. The chair of the PIF is Mohammed Bin Salman, as confirmed by the BBC here.

It seems unbelievable the Premier League accepted assurances the PIF was independent of Bin Salman and allowed the sale of Newcastle United to go ahead, but I'm hearing there could be a legal challenge to the takeover, due to the obviously flawed Owners and Directors Test. I'm also hearing the Premier League is considering implementing a human rights component to the test in future, but unless they apply that component retrospectively, we will have a farcical situation where Bin Salman is continuing to sportswash his war crimes.

Saudi Arabia has been bombing The Yemen since 2014, leaving the country facing the "world's worst humanitarian crisis". Twenty million Yemenis are facing food insecurity and ten million are at risk of famine. An estimated 340,000 have died so far, including 100,000 children, and starvation is the main cause of death. The Saudis have been bombing food supplies, hospitals and refugee camps. You can read more about Saudi atrocities in this Human Rights Watch report.

And all of this is just what they're doing in their neighbouring country. At home, the Saudis have just beheaded 81 people in a single day.

If you think it's bad your social media account could be deleted for challenging government narratives, in Saudi Arabia a blogger was sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison just for hosting an online forum. He literally did what I do.

Defending human rights is a crime in Saudi Arabia, punishable by torture, imprisonment or death. People have even been executed for committing "offences" when they were children - and children (and entire families) have been arrested for the alleged crimes of their parents. You can read about one such example here.

The human rights abuses committed by Mohammed Bin Salman are many and they are sickening. Who could forget the dreadful bone-saw murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul? And yet, instead of imposing sanctions on Saudi Arabia, like he did with Russia, the prime minister has flown over there to do an oil deal - and remember, we are currently selling Saudis the weapons they commit genocide with.

That is one hell of a double standard.

The west has rightly responded with indignation to the behaviour of Vladimir Putin and yet is prepared to look the other way when Mohammed Bin Salman behaves in the same manner. If we speak out against the genocide in The Yemen, we are told now is not the time, that we should only be talking about the war in Ukraine! 

It's almost like brown lives are considered less important than white lives. Or that we are willing to sacrifice our principles, the moment someone shows us their money. I'm pretty sure it's a bit of both and if that doesn't sit well with you, it's time to demand change. It's time to end the corrupting influence of billionaires in our beloved national sport and introduce fan ownership.

I remember when Mike Ashley took over Newcastle United in 2007 and we had such high hopes, but he turned out to be a truly awful chairman, although at least he was no monster. The fans became desperate to get rid of Ashley and replace him with someone who was not using the club simply as a financial investment.

Well, now we have Bin Salman who may well invest in players and improve the quality of the team, but at what cost? How much blood money are we willing to sell our souls for? How many innocent Yemenis must be sacrificed so we can end our 53 year wait for a trophy? How many journalists are we willing to see chopped up with bone-saws?

As far as I'm concerned, none of Chelsea's successes in the Abramovich era were real. Those trophies were bought with blood money and count for absolutely nothing. These were not sporting achievements, but rather corruption that was allowed to happen in broad daylight, and now we're allowing it to happen again. The only way to put a stop to this once and for all is to introduce the 50+1 rule and give football back to the fans, but the government won't do that because collective ownership is a socialist principle.