Newcastle United asks fans to stop wearing 'traditional Arabic clothing' and 'Middle East-inspired head coverings' at matches

October 20, 2021

Newcastle United have asked their fans to stop wearing "traditional Arabic clothing or Middle East-inspired head coverings" at matches after their Saudi Arabian backed takeover.

As soon as the takeover was announced almost a fortnight ago fans turned tea towels into head coverings as they congregated in their thousands around St James' Park.

More supporters wore head coverings and robes for their first home game under new ownership against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

In a statement, the club said: "No-one among the new ownership group was in any way offended by the attire of the fans who chose to celebrate in this way. It was a gesture that was acknowledged as positive and welcoming in its intent.

"However, there remains the possibility that dressing this way is culturally inappropriate and risks causing offence to others.

"All visitors to the club are, as always, encouraged to wear whatever is the norm for their own culture or religion, continuing to reflect the broad and rich multicultural communities and groups from which the club proudly draws its support."

The club's controversial takeover was largely welcomed on Tyneside because it saw businessman Mike Ashley finally sell the club after years of underachievement.

The new owners have promised to transform the club and invest heavily in the city, but have also faced intense criticism due to the human rights record of Saudi Arabia.

Women face widespread discrimination in law and practice in the country, the death penalty is imposed on people in same-sex relationships, torture is used as punishment and free speech is heavily restricted.

The consortium is backed by 80% investment from the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund which is ultimately overseen by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom the CIA accused of involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

The Premier League issued a statement at the time of the takeover to confirm they were satisfied that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would not be running Newcastle United.

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