Prior to Saudi Arabia’s World Cup opener against Argentina, former Newcastle boss Graeme Souness claimed that the Middle Eastern country should be ‘nowhere near’ Newcastle United.
Debates over the ownership of our club are still ongoing over a year after the PIF confirmed the takeover, with Souness believing this is more proof of ‘sportswashing’ in our country.
With the World Cup currently being held in Qatar, many questions are being raised about different countries involvement in football, looking at their human rights record in particular.
PIF were able to prove to the Premier League that they were separate to the state of Saudi Arabia, hence the takeover, but this does not stop questions being asked.
The 69-year-old ITV pundit admitted that it’s not an ‘ideal world’ that we live in, accepting that investment from Saudi Arabia happens all over the world, yet it’s Newcastle United that continue to be targeted in this ongoing debate.
Speaking alongside Roy Keane on ITV, Souness said: “Football is such a vehicle for good and bad. The sportswashing that’s going on in our own country, Newcastle, there’s no way the Saudi’s should have Newcastle United – nowhere near it.
“But it’s not an ideal world, the Saudi’s have been invested in our country for decades, they’ve infiltrated every level of our country. Football has such a profile now, Saudi see it, Abu Dhabi see it, America see it, it’s a chance to improve whatever brand they’re involved in.
“Right now it’s a good news story about Manchester City, that brand, Man City and other teams they have bought, it’s only good news about them.
“I suppose Qatar will look upon Abu Dhabi with a bit of jealousy and they’ll be hoping after this tournament – it’s in their hands to improve workers rights, in their hands to improve diversification of the country.
“The LGBTQ community won’t go quietly, they’ll be on it all the time after the World Cup and that’s the risk they’ve taken, they’ve highlighted the problems within this country and people will be on them for the foreseeable future, if not forever.”