Mainz fans call for their pre-season friendly against Newcastle to be CANCELLED as they claim Premier League club is ‘opposed’ to their values… but German club’s boss defends decision as he asks: ‘How far do the consequences go?’
- Newcastle are set to face German side Mainz in a friendly on Monday 18 July
- Club have faced backlash ever since £305m Saudi-led takeover was completed
- Mainz fans claim Mapgies represent a vehicle ‘opposed’ to their club’s values
- However, Mainz boss Bo Svensson insists the issue is not so black and white
Fans of Bundesliga side Mainz have issued a statement calling for their pre-season friendly against Newcastle to be cancelled, with supporters protesting over Newcastle’s Saudi-backed ownership
The fixture is due to take place on Monday 18 July, just three days after Newcastle take on another German outfit in third-division side 1860 Munich in Austria.
The Magpies have faced criticism and backlash closer to home from rival Premier League sides ever since the £305million takeover was completed, due to Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.
But Mainz supporters are the latest to speak out against the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF), who own an 80 per cent controlling stake in the club after Mike Ashley sold Newcastle last season.
‘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 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.
Mainz have issued a statement calling for their pre-season friendly against Newcastle to be cancelled
The fixture is due to take place on Monday 18 July, just three days after Newcastle take on 1860 Munich
‘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!’
However, Mainz manager Bo Svensson insists the issue is not so black and white, asking if those protesting have also stopped watching Disney films, after in the Saudi PIF bought the company only to later sell the shares.
‘It’s not an easy topic,’ the Dane told German outlet 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.
The Magpies have faced criticism closer to home ever since the £305million Saudi-led takeover was completed
‘Are the people who are asking for cancellations also doing without Disney films with their children? How far do the consequences go?’
One English side has already cancelled a pre-season friendly on similar grounds, with Watford calling off their match against the Qatar national side after supporters raised issues with the country’s views on homosexuality, human rights and women’s rights.
Newcastle’s scheduled match against Mainz comes in the middle of a jam-packed pre-season for Eddie Howe’s men. They kick it off this Saturday with a match against Gateshead before the two matches against the aforementioned German clubs.
The Magpies are also set to face Portuguese outfit Benfica, Serie A side Atalanta and Basque team Athletic Bilbao before the end of the month.
They will then welcome newly-promoted Nottingham Forest to St James’ Park for their opening match of the new top-flight season.
However, Mainz manager Bo Svensson (right) insists the issue is not so black and white