LONDON: The fiancé of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Friday criticized the takeover of Newcastle United by the Saudi-led union, accusing the football club of thinking only about money.
Hatice Cengiz, who was set to marry Khashoggi when he was killed inside Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul in 2018, said the £300 million ($408 million) takeover deal was “heartbreaking” for her and She was “very disappointed”.
“It seems they (Newcastle fans) don’t care about what happened to Jamal, they only care about the financial future,” Cengiz told BBC radio.
“I want to remind them that there is something more important than money, that there is something more important than the financial condition of this club.
“You must send them the message that they cannot buy any English team because of this offense – that is the clear message every Englishman should send to them.”
Western intelligence agencies accused Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of authorizing the killing of a Washington Post contributor, who was a US resident.
Bin Salman also heads the Gulf Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, which was the driving force behind the Newcastle deal.
The Saudis have strongly denied reports of the prince’s involvement in Khashoggi’s murder.
Britain, a major arms exporter to Saudi Arabia, has imposed sanctions on 20 Saudis suspected of involvement in Khashoggi’s murder.
The takeover of the Premier League club was greeted with scenes of excitement outside Newcastle’s St James’ Park ground as fans erupted.
– ‘Blood on its hands’ –
But the arrival of Saudi money to the struggling club in northeastern England has met with warnings from experts and human rights groups.
Professor Madawi Al-Rashid, visiting professor at the London School of Economics, said bin Salman would undoubtedly be involved in the club’s decisions.
“It is very unrealistic to say that there is a distinction between public and private funds in Saudi Arabia,” he told Channel 4 News on Thursday night.
Academics would also like to use the Premier League to rehabilitate themselves and the Gulf Empire’s image after abuses such as the Prince Khashoggi murder.
“Britain can become a platform for the dictators of this world,” Al-Rashid said. “This is a big decision that has to be discussed at a very high level of government in this country.
“Saudi Arabia is a country with no accountability. It is basically one man rule. I see here the crown jewels being sold to the crown with blood on their hands.”
Amnesty International has condemned the Premier League’s decision to greenlight the takeover, accusing Saudi Arabia of engaging in English football to “sportswash” its human rights record.
The Premier League said it would consider Cengiz’s warnings after the Saudi takeover.