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Supporter groups of two clubs demand cancellation of planned friendlies against Newcastle

Supporter groups of two clubs demand the cancellation of planned friendlies against Newcastle United and have released a statement.

Fans of Bundesliga side Mainz have called for their pre-season game against the Magpies to be called off, with supporters protesting over Newcastle’s Saudi-backed ownership.

The fixture is due to take place on Monday the 18th of July, just three days after the Premier League side take on another German outfit in third-division side 1860 Munich in Austria.

Newcastle have faced criticism and backlash closer to home from rival Premier League sides ever since the £305million takeover got the green light, due to Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.

But Mainz supporters are the latest to speak out against the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF), who own an 80% controlling stake in the club after Mike Ashley sold Newcastle in 2021/22.


“Newcastle United was acquired by the Saudi sovereign wealth Fund PIE, which is chaired by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in late 2021. The motive for this was probably less the enthusiasm for football or the identification with the club Newcastle United than the so-called “sport washing” – the attempt to polish the image of Saudi Arabia by entering international football.

“We recall that Saudi Arabia is not only an absolute monarchy in which democratic participation of its citizens has no place, but a country in which basic human rights are systematically disregarded. Suppression of freedom of expression and religion, persecution of homosexuals, oppression of women, use of caning and the death penalty are part of the laws there.

“So Newcastle United is not just a Football club, but a vehicle For asserting the interests of a regime that tramples on human rights and whose policies are diametrically opposed to the values and mission statement of Mainz 05.

“At a time when authoritarian states, large corporations or billionaires are taking over international football in order to assert their interests, it is no longer possible to separate football and politics.
With the decision to play a friendly against Newcastle United, Mainz 05 is sending a signal, and not a good one at that: This game sends out the signal that the values of the mission statement are not binding when it comes to choosing opponents for friendly or friendlies go. With a game against Newcastle United, Mainz also actively offers the Saudi regime a stage and thus indirectly recognizes it politically.

“We call on Mainz 05: Take a stand! Read your mission statement! Cancel the game against Newcastle United!”

Mainz boss Bo Svensson insists the issue is not so black and white, questioning if those protesting have also stopped watching Disney films, after the Saudi PIF bought the company only to later sell the shares.

‘It’s not an easy topic,’ the Dane told German outlet BILD. ‘I’m a bit divided, on the one hand, I can understand the arguments, on the other hand, when it comes to football, things are always inflated and made a huge deal of.

‘Are the people who are asking for cancellations also doing without Disney films with their children? How far do the consequences go?’

Felix Tamsut, a freelancer for fan culture & politics in German football, wrote a Twitter thread.

“Mainz and 1860 Munich are set to play pre-season friendlies vs. Newcastle. Now, voices from both sets of supporters are for the games to be canceled on human rights grounds. When fans take a stand against sportwashing, thread. 1/15 #NUFC

“On July 15, Premier League side Newcastle will play a pre-season friendly against 1860 Munich from Germany’s third division. Three days later, they’ll face Bundesliga side Mainz. 2/15

“Fans from both sides are far from pleased that the games will take place. The reason: Newcastle United’s connections to Saudi Arabia and the country’s human rights record. 3/15

“Some excerpts of what the umbrella organization of Mainz’s fan and ultra groups think about playing a friendly against Saudi-backed Newcastle. 4/15


“Among 1860 Munich supporters, too, some views on the game taking place are rather critical. Ultra group Comitiva 90 made sure to make its views on their club playing Newcastle known by hanging a banner with the sentence: “Against sportswashing! F*** the Sheikhs!” 5/15


“One of the most well-known 1860 Munich fan blogs wrote the following about the Newcastle game taking place. 6/15


“The fans’ protests didn’t go unnoticed. Mainz have already said they’re going to review the decision to hold the game, with the club saying the move comes as a result of the fans’ protests. 7/15


“Fan and ultra groups in Germany have a long history of voicing their views against human rights abuses and sportswashing. The most prominent example is Bayern Munich’s ultras and their protests against their own club’s connections to Qatar. 8/15

“Bayern Munich’s fan & ultra scene’s protests against Qatar, which have been taking place in various forms the past several years, led the club to call a round table with fan representatives, the Qatari ambassador to Germany and human rights experts. 9/15

This is by no means the only example. Augsburg’s ultras organized a demonstration in their city against the World Cup in Qatar. 10/15

Twitter users reacted with supporter groups of two clubs saying that they want friendlies against Newcastle cancelled…

@Robin_W_1: Don’t blame them

@seamusing: German football fans are amazing at standing up for what’s right

@JonnyPow99: They have a moral compass

@aidanjord4n: Could we please see Bayern Munichs badge from 1938-1945 and then talk about outrage linked to human rights? Cheers

@SteveMc9: Get used to it folks… there will always be an element of haters who aren’t going away…🤷🏻‍♂️

@RobertsonD1987: To be fair the germans have an impeccable human rights record. They’ve never harmed anyone. I see their point.

@IndexCheesus: In an interesting coincidence, the city of Mainz is twinned with Watford. Fan activism solidiarity from #WatfordFC!

@TopOTheGoths: German fans are always at the forefront of going what is good and what is right. Good to see them takin a stand again

@Ramma_____: Well played #Mainz05 fans, impeccable morals – sadly for #NUFC fans, transfer budgets are a bigger priority than human rights.

@MiserableMackem: Absolutely the way it should be from the @1FSVMainz05 @Mainz05en fans. Gut erledigt. #Mainz05

@Pooliemags1Ttv: Quite ironic coming from a team that plays in the country that’s committed the worst kind of human rights to date… #nufc

@Samtoon15: Straight into these German mackems then

@Caldini_SZN: Always liked Mainz

@Parkersafc: Yes @1FSVMainz05 more of this across the board. Don’t let the bastards sportswash the sporting world #Mainz05 #SaudiMurderers

@LdoubleE_87: Nah, it’s only jealous Sunderl……oh hang on a minute

@Worfourtwo: German fans scream at clouds whilst their club sells their best players to Bayern. But they’re the ones ‘in control’. 50+1 is a joke.

@BarryJIngham1: Saudi flag ordered 🇸🇦

@bakedbeans22: If your response to this is going to be germans have no right to criticise human rights just don’t, it’s not the own you think it is, it’s embarrassing and wrong

@MikeFenton5: A very sensible assessment by the Mainz boss 🌑⚪️

SEE MORE: Newcastle fans laugh in the face of controversy with new ‘Saudi Arabia’ third kit released

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