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Buying of a football club, geopolitics and sportswashing

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Fans react outside the stadium after Newcastle United announced takeover in St James’ Park, Newcastle, UK, on October 7, 2021. Photo: Reuters

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Fans react outside the stadium after Newcastle United announced takeover in St James’ Park, Newcastle, UK, on October 7, 2021. Photo: Reuters

The takeover of Newcastle United, an ailing English club, by a consortium led by a Saudi-backed investment fund, has once again stoked a passionate debate on sportswashing. As a result of the approval of the buyout, the struggling club has suddenly become the richest club in the world’s richest football league, the English Premier League (EPL), where Newcastle currently ranks 19th out of 20 teams in the league’s point table. The change of ownership, though largely welcomed by the fans of Newcastle, has prompted widespread criticism from human rights groups, and raised some critical geopolitical…

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