What exactly is’sportswashing,’ and how does it relate to the Newcastle takeover?
Newcastle United has a new owner after more than a year of battling behind the scenes.
The club is expected to welcome ‘world-class players’ to St James Park in the future seasons as a result of the £300 million Saudi-backed acquisition.
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However, you may have seen the term’sportswashing’ used in connection with the takeover; what exactly does it imply?
‘Sportswashing,’ to put it simply, is when sport is utilized to legitimize or improve the reputation of an individual, group, corporation, or nation-state.
It’s never been easier for fans all around the world to engage with their favorite team or event, thanks to the worldwide appeal of sport made possible by 21st-century technology.
However, the concept of sportswashing is not new, and examples may be found throughout history.
For example, Adolf Hitler used the 1936 Summer Olympics to legitimize his Nazi dictatorship in Germany, and Benito Mussolini used the Italian World Cup in the same year to achieve similar goals.
Participating in a sport or investing in it through sponsorship and/or ownership can also be used to accomplish sportswashing.
Sportswashing is the act of investing in or participating in a lawful sport in order to divert attention away from any illegitimate means that an individual, group, corporation, or nation may be employing.
Newcastle has been acquired by PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media, as well as Saudi Arabia’s state investment fund (PIF).
In recent years, the Saudi kingdom has hosted a number of sporting events, including Anthony Joshua fights and a Grand Prix.
The Premier League first turned down the agreement in July 2020, but that decision was reversed after the PIF persuaded Premier League executives that the Saudi kingdom would not be involved in the club’s operations.
Campaigners have criticized Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, with some arguing that by purchasing Newcastle, they are effectively’sportswashing.’
Felix Jakens, the UK Head of Campaigns at Amnesty International, slammed the prospective takeover in January 2020.
He stated, ” “Given the current influx of Saudi Arabian funding in sports, an acquisition of Newcastle United would not be surprising.
“Saudi Arabia is well-known for its attempts at’sportswashing,’ in which the country tries to utilize the glitter and grandeur of top-tier sport as a PR tool to divert attention away from its appalling human rights record.
“There has been a massive human rights crackdown in Saudi Arabia under Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, with countless peaceful campaigners imprisoned, including Loujain al-Hathloul and other heroic women’s rights defenders.
“It isn’t… Brinkwire Breaking News