Mainz Fans Call On Club To Cancel Pre Season Friendly With Newcastle United
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Newcastle United's controversial ownership by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund has led Mainz fans to call on their club to cancel a pre season friendly.
The Saudi owners, along with Amanda Staveley, were finally given the green light to buy Newcastle from Mike Ashley back in October last year.
Despite the Premier League allowing the takeover, it wasn't without controversy mainly due to the country's record with human rights issues and the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
The club's connection to the Middle East country is so close already that their third kit for next season looks eerily similar to the shirts worn by the Saudi Arabia national team.
That connection has been criticised over the past few months and now fans of Mainz want their club to boycott the Magpies, and not play them in a game this month.
"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," a statement by the fans read.
"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 a game against Newcastle United, Mainz also actively offers the Saudi regime a stage and thus indirectly recognises it politically.
"We call on Mainz 05: Take a stand! Read your mission statement! Cancel the game against Newcastle United!"
Eddie Howe's side kick off their preparations for next season on Saturday, when they take on local side Gateshead at the Newcastle Academy Stadium.
They then travel to Germany, for what is supposed to be two games, taking on 1860 Munich on July 15th, before the match with Mainz three days later, if it goes ahead.
There shouldn't be much worry of the game being cancelled, with the club's manager, Bo Svensson, using the usual Disney response to the issue, after PIF bought a minority share in the company in 2020, which seems very different to being majority owners of Newcastle.
"It's not an easy topic," Svensson said to 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?"
World Cup hosts Qatar have had to deal with the cancellation of a fixture this summer, with Watford no longer playing the national team.
It came after pressure from fans, who raised issues with the country's views on homosexuality, human rights and women's rights.
Newcastle's new owners certainly helped them avoid relegation to the Championship last season, as the arrival of Howe, and £90 million worth of incoming signings, boosted them from the relegation zone to 11th place.
They have already started investing for the upcoming campaign, and have even been linked with a move for Neymar, as they eye a higher finishing position.
Howe's side have even been tipped to 'do a Leicester City' and win the league, although the Foxes didn't quite have the same injection of money to go along with their shock 5000/1 shot.