‘No Qatari sportswashing!’ Manchester United fans protest against Sheikh Jassim takeover bid

Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani is bidding to own Manchester United after the Glazers put the club up for sale

Lawrence Ostlere
Sunday 12 March 2023 15:10 GMT
Qatari banker joins race to buy Manchester United from Glazers family

Manchester United fans displayed a banner decrying “Qatari sportswashing” at their Premier League game with Southampton on Sunday.

Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, the chairman of one of Qatar’s biggest banks, is currently bidding to buy Manchester United.

A local Amnesty International group held up the message, which read: “No Qatari sportswashing at United!”

Bidders, including Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos, have moved to the next stage of the process that could lead to a takeover of the club, giving them an opportunity to conduct due diligence. It is expected it could be a slow process as bidders pore over the details of the club’s commercial contracts.

Sheikh Jassim and Ineos both confirmed their offers to purchase United from the Glazer family last month and are the only bidders to have gone public.

Sources close to wealthy banker Sheikh Jassim insist he is bidding alone as a private individual, without any direct or indirect support from the Qatari state or the country’s sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority. But the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust has expressed concerns around multi-club ownership – Qatar Sports Investments controls Paris St Germain – and around human rights.

Kathryn Fletcher, who has organised the 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?

“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.”

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