Khashoggi murder and beoutQ piracy cast shadow over moral integrity of Newcastle sale

May 11 – The fiancee of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi has pleaded with Newcastle United and the Premier League to ensure “moral values prevail” before any takeover deal with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which is backed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, is agreed.

The top-flight club, one of the English game’s biggest sleeping giants, are reportedly on the verge, after several false dawns, of being sold in a £300 million takeover to the Saudi group alongside wealthy British-based Reuben brothers and financier Amanda Staveley in a deal brokered by Staveley.

Qatar-based broadcaster beIN Sports has already poured scorn on the deal saying Saudi Arabia should be held to account for the theft of broadcast rights and the illegal transmission of Premier League matches by Saudi-backed pirate broadcaster beoutQ.

Khashoggi, a former columnist for the Washington Post, was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, in October 2018. He had been at the consulate to obtain documents regarding his planned marriage to Hatice Cengiz, but never left the consulate alive.

A Saudi court sentenced five people to death and sent three more to jail for the murder of Khashoggi in December 2019 but Cengiz has urged a stop to the proposed takeover.

“Moral values should prevail,” Cengiz told the BBC. “My message would be to the management of Newcastle United and to the decision makers: we should consider ethical values, not just financial or political ones. Money cannot buy everything in the world. So the message that will be given to people like the Crown Prince is extremely important.”

Amnesty International has already criticised the potential deal due to Saudi Arabia’s dire human rights record. The country has been accused of “sportswashing”, a term used to describe regimes that try to improve their international reputation by investing in major teams or hosting big sporting events.

“We don’t want this deal to go ahead,” said Cengiz. “We are not just talking about the murder of a human being but the efforts to keep all hopes regarding the future, to keep human rights alive, to support justice and to start a transformation in the Middle East.

“This deal seems to be about buying something. But there is a wider picture. Saudi Arabia shows the world its face of reform. But it has another face where the reality is far from what is shown to the world. This is why we want this (deal) to be stopped and not be completed.”

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