Liverpool fans protest outside Anfield against Newcastle’s ‘unfit’ Saudi owners

A group of Liverpool fans held a protest outside Anfield against Newcastle United’s ‘unfit’ Saudi Arabian ownership ahead of the Premier League clash between the two sides.

The Magpies were bought by the Middle East country’s Public Investment Fund in October, ending more than a decade of ownership by Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley.

There have been major concerns over the move to allow Saudi Arabia to own a Premier League club, particularly from human rights groups given the country’s strict laws around LGBT+ rights.

The league has insisted that it has received assurances that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will not control Newcastle but has declined to explain how this will work in practice.

The PIF is chaired by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, with six government ministers also on the board.

An investigation by The Athletic raised concerns over the safety over Saudi citizen Suhail al-Jameel, a 25-year-old social media influencer reported to have been arrested in 2019 for posting a topless selfie.

Al-Jameel’s cause has now been taken up by LGBT+ supporters groups across the Premier League, particularly when their clubs play Newcastle.

The Magpies travelled to Liverpool on Thursday night, with the Reds’ LGBT+ supporters group Kop Outs holding a protest against the Saudi ownership of Newcastle ahead of the game.

Kop Outs were joined in the protest by the Spirit of Shankly supporters union, Liverpool Disabled Supporters Association, Liverpool Women’s Supporters Club and the Fans Supporting Foodbanks group.

The protesters held up posters with the message ‘#FreeSuhail’, as well as releasing a video on Twitter in which a spokesperson blasted the Newcastle ownership.

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“We are protesting the owners of Newcastle United. The Saudis who have jailed and sentenced for 800 lashes a young man just for showing himself topless in a selfie,” they said.

“The Saudis are not fit and proper owners of a football club and should never be allowed into the Premier League.

“So, we’re protesting against the Saudis and free Suhail who is currently imprisoned and sentenced to 800 lashes.”

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