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Manchester United fans have formed a new campaign group to protest against the planned Qatari takeover of the club. Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, the former heir apparent of Qatar, is among the frontrunners to buy the club and many fans aren’t happy about it.
The Glazers are looking to sell the club after a turbulent 18 years in charge and value United at over £5billion. Second bids were recently made by the potential suitors with Ineos owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe also in the running to become the new majority shareholder.
Fans favour Ratcliffe to be the next owner and have come out in their masses to protest Jassim’s takeover, launching a new campaign group ‘United against Sportswashing’ in hopes of halting the Qatari approach. The I reports that the campaign group has joined forces with Newcastle United’s ‘No Saudi Toon’, who protested Mike Ashley’s sale of their club to Saudi consortium, RB Sports & Media.
A joint statement from the two protest groups said: “While NUFC play MUFC on Sunday, groups of fans from both clubs will be united in a common cause, regardless of the result on the pitch.
“We are Newcastle United and Manchester United fans standing together to call for an end to the sale of our historic clubs to states which use them to sportswash their human rights abuses.”
There is a chance that minority funding could be opted for although Jassim and Ratcliffe would prefer to purchase a majority share of the club. The Premier League recently updated their regulations as to who can own a football club, with tighter regulations, including “a new Disqualifying Event for human rights abuses, based on Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020”.
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However, despite Qatar’s poor human rights record, Jassim is not thought to be affected by the changes as he is an individual and not a state. Although the bid has still received widespread anger from fans due to his position in the Qatari royal family.
Human rights organisation Amnesty International recently released a statement backing their concerns, reading: “Fan groups are right to be concerned that a Qatari buyout of Manchester United is likely to be part of a wider programme of Qatari sportswashing, where the glamour of football is used to refashion the country’s image regardless of serious and systematic human rights abuses.”
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