Manchester Amnesty group will display ‘No Qatari sportswashing at United!’
Local Amnesty group will display ‘No Qatari sportswashing at United!’ banner during Sunday’s home game against Southampton
Manchester United supporters belonging to the local Amnesty International group will unfurl a banner at Sunday’s match against Southampton at Old Trafford (2pm kick-off) declaring their opposition to Qatari sportswashing at the club.
Last month, Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani announced a bid from a Qatari consortium to buy Manchester United. Sheikh Jassim, chair of the Qatar Islamic Bank - whose largest shareholder is the Qatar Investment Authority, the country’s sovereign wealth fund - is the son of Qatar’s former prime minister.
The bid comes only weeks after Qatar’s high-profile hosting of the World Cup, an event hailed as a major success by Fifa and the Qatari authorities despite longstanding concerns about human rights violations in the country, especially relating to the treatment of migrant workers. Amnesty has documented the widespread exploitation of migrant workers in Qatar, and criticised the country’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws and unacceptable limits on freedom of speech and women’s rights.
Last month, Amnesty warned that Qatari ownership of Manchester United could see the club being used for state-backed sportswashing. As with the 2021 Saudi purchase of Newcastle United, Amnesty has called on the Premier League to overhaul its ownership rules to ensure they’re properly human rights-compliant.
Kathryn Fletcher, the Amnesty Manchester group member who has organised Sunday’s banner protest, said:
“I’m part of a group of United fans who are deeply concerned about a Qatari takeover of our club.
“Manchester United’s charter says suppliers must not use forced labour and must practice ‘universal respect for human rights and freedoms for all, without discrimination of age, disability, gender or sexual orientation’ - how is this compatible with Qatari ownership?
“Our city has much to be proud of in the struggle for human rights - giving birth to the labour movement, trade unions and women’s suffrage - so allowing our great clubs to be used for sportswashing seems like a shoddy betrayal of this proud heritage.
“The Premier League should step in to ensure integrity in the governance of the league’s football clubs - it shouldn’t be left to fans to oppose takeovers by owners who may be linked to serious human rights abuses.”
When and where
The protest banner will be unfurled ahead of the 2:00pm kick-off - and at other times during the match - by a group of supporters in the south stand in a location visible to players and coaches near the players’ tunnel.