Home Home Page Promos Now is time for Premier League to respect human rights
Date published: Monday 7th March 2022 9:47 – John Nicholson
It should not take a European war to shake things up but the Premier League needs change amid Ukraine crisis.
Last week, the Premier League was minded to consider adding a human rights element to their notoriously non-rigorous ‘fit and proper persons test’ as part of a wide-ranging reassessment of the league’s governance. Or ‘looking like you’re doing something because everyone hates you and thinks you are doing a terrible job’ as it may be more accurately called.
How nice of them to suddenly wake up to ‘consider’ (a weasel word) the very notion of human rights. It appears to have taken a European war to shake them out of their default amoral greedy complacency. Previously human rights were deemed irrelevant to the Premier League, which is how we’ve ended up with some truly appalling owners.
Of course, the weekend’s ‘we stand with Ukraine’ colours and banners allowed some of the worst owners to look supportive abroad, whilst not condemning Russia at home. But it gave something for the league to point towards to prove how much they care about mass slaughter and unprovoked war. However, they don’t care enough to apply any new tests retrospectively; it’ll only apply to new owners. Existing owners can still murder, imprison, bully and bomb. Well that’s a relief isn’t it? Cowards.
With talk of sanctions in the air (though words mean little to this corrupt government which, like the Premier League has not been bothered about human rights at all and happily encouraged British companies to sell arms to Russia, Saudi Arabia and other appalling regimes), and at least one famous oligarch conducting a fire sale to try and get away before all of his money is frozen, it seems that Premier League CEO Richard Masters has become vaguely aware that there may be people who think the Premier League is a morally bankrupt bad guy, so something will have to be done. But if they really cared about human rights we wouldn’t be where we are.
“We’re looking to see if more tests need to be added, if we need to be more transparent and whether those decisions should be approved by an independent body,” blarted Masters with all the self-awareness of a deaf, blindfolded elephant in a shop full of expensive china. Here’s your answer, fella: Yes they do. Yes you do. Yes they should.
Now go away and make it happen. Ah, you’re still here.
“We’ve had some helpful conversations with Amnesty International about those kinds of things (human rights).” Well done. They’ve been admonishing your league for decades for taking big amounts of very dirty and bloody money from some very dirty bloody places.
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But he was keen not to give the impression of doing anything soon. God forbid.
“I’m not ready to say how it should change yet because actually it should be across football; it should be us the FA and the EFL agreeing what that test should be, how it should be implemented and how it should be communicated to fans.”
Okay Rick, that should add 10 minutes onto the process. Need some help? Okay, this is what you all agree to abide by:
No murderer, thief, fraudster, criminal, human rights abuser or oppressor can own a club in whole or in part. Nor can anyone who is part of a family, an organisation, a government, a business, a state, or has any associates who are any of the above.
See? Easy. That’s just for starters, of course. We can deal with the sports investment portfolio people and all the other sordid businesses that own clubs in order to drain profit and dividends out of them another time.
You implement it by setting a date it will become effective both going forward and retrospectively and you police it with a rigorous independent organisation which vets all current and potential owners in a totally transparent manner – making its judgements public and showing its workings.
Anyone not coming up to the new standard is given notice that they have to dispose of their assets or have them seized and sold off. And you communicate all of this to fans by writing it down and putting it on a website or sending carrier pigeons. You have heard of the internet, haven’t you? See, Dick, it’s not hard. If you think it is, you’re not up to the job.
This will likely not totally exclude all absolute bastards. But it will mean that managers will not have to answer for the morality of the source of the club’s money, his and his players’ wages. Managers might not set the standards for owners, that is the game’s administrators task, but if you take a job, knowing full well you are being paid with blood money, dodgy money, or money stolen from the people of a nation, or from warmongers, bombers and torturers, or from their regimes, you are effectively driving the getaway car. You are the frontispiece of the club. You are tugging your forelock, doffing your cap and shilling for an individual, organisation or a regime that has only bought the club for sportswashing reasons. And you know it. Don’t try to separate football and politics, they are one and the same thing.
Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s CEO speaks with great wisdom.
“In an era of global sportswashing and with the horror of what is currently unfolding in Ukraine, the Premier League has a clear moral responsibility to change its ownership rules to put a stop to top-flight English football being used as a PR vehicle for those complicit in serious human rights violations.”
It’s hardly an extreme statement, is it? But would it be a surprise if Masters and all the other greasy self-interested club officials, the FA and EFL did nothing about any of this in the end, except a few PR gestures, still hypnotised by big money and doing as little as possible? No. That’s what they’ve done to date.
14 out of 20 in the top flight have to vote for change. Do they want change? I doubt most of them do because many of them would be the proverbial turkey voting for Christmas.
We, the decent people, who want a cleaner, more modest and honest game, we the people for whom the game is played, must hold Masters’ feet to the fire on this and make sure our clubs do likewise. If we are supine and accepting, they will do nothing. Serious, endemic and radical change is needed for the finances and ownership of the national game, but with self-interest the guiding creed, what hope can we have that it will happen?
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It should not take a European war to shake things up but the Premier League needs change amid Ukraine crisis.
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By faress

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