For a large number of Sunderland fans, the worst thing ever to happen in the world, was the Saudi Arabia PIF led takeover of Newcastle United.
No, not because this might mean Newcastle United could finally show some ambition after almost a decade and a half of Mike Ashley.
Instead, these many Sunderland fans opposed to the NUFC takeover, insisting that it is only human rights issues that is the big problem.
Claiming that the human rights record of Saudi Arabia means, that any involvement of the PIF in owning an English football club, should be absolutely banned.
Further, these Sunderland fans stating that if Newcastle United fans insisted on still actively supporting their team / club, then that makes them as bad as those responsible for the human rights issues in Saudi Arabia.
Going even further, these Sunderland fans insisting that if anybody like the Saudi Arabia PIF had anything to do with their club, they would en masse refuse to go to any games and launch campaigns / demonstrations to force them away from their club.
An admirable stance to take and ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the Saudi Arabia PIF presence making Newcastle United more likely to be successful.
Well, Thursday (27 October 2022) brought an official Sunderland announcement (see below), revealing that they are sending the squad on a warm weather break during the World Cup.
The destination is the UAE (United Arab Emirates)…
This is part of the UAE overview on Wikipedia:
‘Human rights groups, such as Amnesty International, Freedom House and Human Rights Watch, regard UAE as generally substandard on human rights, with citizens criticising the regime imprisoned and tortured, families harassed by the state security apparatus, and cases of forced disappearances.
Individual rights such as the freedoms of assembly, association, the press, expression, and religion are also severely repressed.’
On top of the info above, one of the big areas of concern for the Sunderland fans criticising their local rival fans, was the fact that Saudi Arabia was part of the coalition involved in the war in Yemen. The UAE also part of that Yemen war coalition alongside Saudi Arabia and others…
Surely now there would be hardly any Sunderland fans at all attending future matches, as supporting a club that gives its backing / money to a human rights abusing country such as the UAE, will surely be impossible.
It now gets even better…
Today (Wednesday 16 November 2022), Sunderland fans saw their club make a further official announcement regarding their warm weather trip…
‘Sunderland AFC will face Al-Shabab Football Club in a friendly fixture during their upcoming trip to the United Arab Emirates.
Tony Mowbray’s side will travel to Dubai on Sunday for a week-long training camp ahead of a return to Sky Bet Championship action on 3 December when Millwall visit Wearside.
The fixture against Al-Shabab, who currently sit first in the SPL, will be played on Friday 25 November at 17:00 GST (13:00 GMT) at Jebel Ali Centre of Excellence.’
Al-Shabab Football Club are based in…Riyadh.
Which happens to be in…Saudi Arabia.
Al Shabab are actually leading the Saudi Arabia top tier as they head into this World Cup break.
I look forward to the contortions of Sunderland fans explaining how it isn’t the same / it isn’t as bad as the situation at Newcastle United.
Well, surely you either believe in human rights and doing the right thing, or you don’t.
If you set yourself up to denounce others for simply continuing to support their football club, then quite clearly you wouldn’t want to be shown to be a bunch of hypocrites…would you?
Sunderland official announcement – 27 October 2022:
Sunderland’s first-team squad will embark on a winter training camp this November.
Following the Lads’ Friday night fixture away to Birmingham City, there will be a three-week pause in the Sky Bet Championship season for the FIFA World Cup.
Mowbray and the senior squad will travel to the UAE during that period, as the team undertake a week-long warm-weather training camp in Dubai.
Following a successful start to life back in the second tier, the trip will prime the squad for a busy festive schedule and provide an opportunity for the team to bond further as a group.
“After the Birmingham game, the team will have a week’s break to spend time with their families and relax before we go to Dubai for a training camp,” explained the Head Coach.
“We will be training a lot, but the group have worked incredibly hard this season following promotion and they will also have the opportunity to spend time together.”
He continued: “It’s really important to develop relationships, especially the lads who joined us six to eight weeks ago, and the trip allows us to do that 24 hours a day.
“There will be other benefits, including key players coming back to fitness – we will potentially have Aji, [Alese], Dan [Ballard], Lynden [Gooch] and Ross [Stewart] available.
“Following the trip, we will have a full week’s training in preparation for Millwall at the start of December when we reboot our season.”