Premier League to meet Amnesty over ‘sportswashing’ and club owner criteria

October 29 – English Premier League officials have agreed to meet with Amnesty International to discuss potential changes to the so-called owners and directors test following the recent controversial Saudi-led takeover of Newcastle United.

The £305 million acquisition has been branded “sportswashing” by Amnesty who wrote to Premier League supremo Richard Masters calling for a meeting to address takeover criteria.

The current rules cover only a limited investigation into possible conflicts of interest and past criminal convictions. At present the owners’ test, applied to every individual named as having a direct role in controlling a Premier League club, does not make any mention of human rights.

“We’re obviously pleased that the Premier League is willing to talk about these proposals as a starting point for what we hope will be a process that leads to considerable strengthening of the rules on football governance,” said Sacha Deshmukh, CEO of Amnesty International UK.

“The current rules concerning who owns and runs English football clubs are woefully inadequate, with no bar on ownership for those complicit in acts of torture, slavery, human trafficking or even war crimes.

“The Saudi buyout always looked like an attempt to sportswash Saudi Arabia’s appalling human rights record with the glamour and prestige of the Premier League and top-flight football.

“We’re keen to discuss with Richard Masters our ideas for a human rights-compliant owners’ and directors’ test which can help weed out unsuitable owners complicit in human rights violations, as well as reducing sportswashing and generally improving governance within the game.”

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