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International Sports Unions Should End Cooperation with the Saudi Authorities

The “Together for Justice Organization” renewed its call on international football unions and other popular sports not to cooperate with the Saudi regime as long as it continues its violations against human rights inside and outside KSA.

The organization warned that any cooperation of any kind makes officials in these unions directly complicit in the brutal violations committed by the Saudi regime, without any regard for covenants, charters, or even multiple human rights and international calls to improve the human rights situation in the country.

Last Tuesday, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with the President of the International Football Association (FIFA) Gianni Infantino, and the President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), Dr. Patrice Mutseb, in the presence of Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, Minister of Sports, and Yasser Al-Mishal, President of the Saudi Football Association and Matthias Grafstrom, Deputy Secretary-General of FIFA.

During the meeting, cooperation between Saudi Arabia and FIFA, and the Confederation of African Football was reviewed, and ways to develop and improve them.

Since assuming the mandate of the crown prince in 2017, Mohammed bin Salman has launched repressive campaigns against activists, opponents, intellectuals, and potential competitors for the throne, in order to tighten his grip on the reins of the country and consolidate his position. He resorted to repression and prosecuting those of dissent opinion, and ending the freedom of opinion and expression.

The Saudi regime has always resorted to covering up its crimes and improving its reputation internationally by creating a public opinion – through public relations campaigns – that supports the regime’s decisions and glorifying its achievements, even though these unjust achievements were based on the blood of the innocent and arrest of scholars and thinkers.

Among the ways, the Saudi regime attempted to clean its image is the so-called “sports washing”, which is creating partnerships and cooperation agreements between KSA and the companies sponsoring international championships or international sports federations, in order to have fans of these sports and ensure that the regime is not criticized by global peoples for his brutal crimes against human rights.

The Saudi authorities are already suffering from a bad international reputation due to the continuous violations, especially after the brutal crime of the assassination and dismemberment of the dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside his country’s consulate in Istanbul, and because of the catastrophic effects of the Yemen war after the Saudi military intervention, which left the largest and worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

In this regard, we appeal to the international sports federations or international companies sponsoring sports tournaments not to fall into the trap of any bilateral agreements with the Saudi regime lest this become complicity in human rights crimes, some of which amount to war crimes, as was done in Yemen, and we demand them to priorities human rights interests above all other economic and commercial interests.

We call on the people of the whole world not to be deceived by such deals and agreements, as loyalty to the team is never linked to the support of the sponsor. Rather, any funding that comes from regimes that trade with the blood of innocents and reject people’s legitimate right to exercise freedom of opinion and expression.

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