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Why European football should be more open to middle eastern investment as Qatar prepare to purchase Manchester United

Ever since Manchester City became the first ever state-owned Premier League club in 2008, the topic of sports washing has been ever present in the UK as the middle eastern monopoly continues to grow across Europe.

Newcastle United became the latest side to become a state-run team after the Saudi Public Investment Fund bought the club in 2021, and Manchester United are expected to be purchased by Qatari Sheikh Jassim Al-Thani.

From a footballing perspective, opposition fans will feel aggrieved by the new super wealth that will be given to the state-run clubs, but from a moral perspective the issue gets a lot more serious.

After the 2022 Qatar World Cup sparked constant debate, there is no hiding from the fact that most middle eastern nations hold notoriously poor human rights records, especially towards women and the LGBT+ community, while the death penalty is still in use today.

However, if you were to look through the not-too-distant history of a country like the USA, you’d start to realise that the western world can, and has been, just as cruel.  

Up until 2003, it was still a criminal offence in some states to be homosexual. Today, the death penalty is authorized in over half of all states, and the issues the country has faced in its failure to deal with racism are as clear as ever.

And if you are understandably outraged by Saudi Arabia using the death penalty on a daily basis, then just wait until you realise that the UK has supplied them with an estimated £23 BILLION in weapons since 2015 in a deal that stretches back for decades.

While it may be already be obvious, I feel I am obliged to outline that this is not at all justifying the mistakes made, but more to show that no society across the world is perfect and like in the case of the US, over time, society can be improved.

Steps have been made to better the lives of those in the minority and in time, we all hope that we can reach a society where everyone lives in harmony. Before that though, the western world needs to step off the moral high ground, and instead aim to include everyone, including the middle east.

If the UK and US want to pride themselves as inclusive nations that have learned from their dark pasts, they should aim to have countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and U.A.E take the same path and help them progress their societies to be more inclusive.

Football has always been a sport which has been a symbol for inclusivity across the world and rather than try to exclude the middle east, I believe we should instead start thinking about how we can work together so that, in time, their eyes are opened to the benefits of a multi-cultural society and just like the UK and the US have done, learn from their mistakes to make a better future.

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