The Premier League has implemented new ownership rules to help block human rights abusers from purchasing a club. The rule change bars potential buyers with past human rights abuses. The rule will take effect immediately.

The UK’s Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations determines these abuses. According to the laws, prospective owners face bans if they currently have UK government sanctions hanging overhead. Other possible disqualifications include corruption, fraud, tax evasion as well as hate crimes and violence. These rules also apply to club’s sporting directors.

Human rights group leader unconvinced with Premier League rule

Peter Frankental, Amnesty International UK’s economic affairs director, sees this as a step in the right direction. Still, he desires more.

“It’ll make little difference unless powerful individuals linked to serious human rights violations overseas are definitively barred from taking control of Premier League clubs and using them for state sportswashing,” stated Frankental.

“Would, for instance, a future bid involving Saudi or Qatari sovereign wealth funds be blocked by this rule change? It’s far from clear that they would.”

“Merely checking whether people are on an existing UK sanctions list is a very low bar, and the sanctions list reflects the Government’s foreign policy priorities rather than any objective assessment of human rights issues.”

Sheikh Jassim’s bid for Man Utd could become an issue

The new rules could have an affect on Manchester United’s impending sale. Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim has made official bids to purchase the Red Devils from the Glazer Family. However, human rights and LGBTQ+ groups have raised questions over the potential move.

Qatar currently outlaws homosexuality. Consequently, punishments range from fines to death by stoning. The Middle Eastern country’s treatment of migrant workers in preparation for the 2022 World also garnered significant criticism. Nevertheless, Martyn Ziegler of The Times has reported that Sheikh Jassim is not currently on the UK government’s list of people sanctions for human rights abuse.

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