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Newcastle United owners back gay player – Controversy ensues

4 weeks ago
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The new Newcastle United owners had an ‘interesting’ Wednesday night.

Earlier yesterday, Josh Cavallo released a video message in which he came out as gay.

Josh is a football player for Adelaide United Football Club in Australia.

It made massive news, which tells its own story really, the fact that a football player making it publicly known that he is gay leads to such worldwide coverage, especially when no disrespect to Josh Cavallo – but he is (was!) a little known player, playing for a little known club, in a league that (usually!) gets minimal global coverage. The point being, that it is massive news because he is pretty much unique (or part of a very small group) as a current professional football player that has made it known he is gay. This to a backdrop of where we all surely accept that there are thousands of gay players playing for clubs in countries all around the world and no doubt within those thousands, there must be some very high profile players who just happen to be gay – but of course for whatever reason(s) don’t feel comfortable in making the fact public.

Anyway, back to the new Newcastle United owners.

Along with much of the rest of the football community around the world, they have put a message out regarding Josh Cavallo making the brave move to go public

Newcastle United official Twitter account message, put out alongside the video of Josh Cavallo coming out as gay – 27 October 2021:

‘A powerful and inspirational message.

Football is for everyone.

Newcastle United is right with you, Josh.’

The replies to the Newcastle United owners message (Some people in the replies claimed that this Tweet will have just been NUFC social media staff putting it out of their volition, something which I most definitely don’t think will be the case, the subject such a hot potato (see the replies below!) it will definitely have been okayed at the highest level)

Now as you will see in the replies below, the club tweet has predictably attracted massive attention, everybody from journalists, human rights campaigners, fans of Man Utd, Leicester, Barcelona, people totally disinterested in football…and Newcastle fans!

No surprise either that so many of the replies aren’t positive, in terms of their reaction to the Newcastle United owners putting out something like this message.

Something that you had all better start getting used to because just as Man City have experienced, the make up of the ownership of NUFC will ensure this kind of thing happens time and time again in the months and years ahead. Newcastle United a real political football that will be relentlessly kicked around.

The thing that gets me, is that whilst I obviously respect any genuine person who is making a valid point regarding concerns about the way life is in Saudi Arabia and the actions of those in power there. When you see so many of the replies below, there is a lot of criticism (of NUFC owners and of NUFC fans!) but in this particular case of Josh Cavallo and what should / shouldn’t have been the response of the Newcastle United owners, I see there were broadly three options…

ONE

Put out a message in support of Josh Cavallo.

TWO

Put out a message that wasn’t showing support for Josh Cavallo.

THREE

Do nothing.

So whilst of course the arguments over who should and shouldn’t be allowed to own Premier League clubs and who are the actual real effective owners of NUFC, will never go away, I’m puzzled as to in this instance exactly what was the right thing for the Newcastle United owners to do.

No doubt those (as well as people with genuine concerns) who simply have it in for Newcastle United and the fans would have loved it to have been option TWO above. However, in reality, the only two options were option THREE and do nothing, or what they did do with option ONE in a message of support for Josh Cavallo.

On balance, I would say that surely something like this one incident and the debate the tweet from the Newcastle United owners has stimulated, must surely be seen as something positive. Saudi (whether you accept it is PIF or the regime itself) ownership of Newcastle United putting out a supportive message regarding a gay football player, is to me a clear very small step forward. The fact that in the replies to the NUFC tweet there were clearly some Saudi people (who weren’t bots / trolls) not happy with that message going out with Saudi Arabia linked to it, reinforces to me that this was a positive thing to do.

To get any major change in so many countries where human rights are minimal / non-existent, won’t ever happen overnight and will be a very long process to make any progress pretty much anywhere.

Newcastle United fans never had a vote on who the owners of the club would be, it is only Mike Ashley who decided that, so we as supporters have had this situation landed on top of us. Hopefully the way that the vast majority of us will act in the years ahead, will in some small way help progress to be made in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.

Some of the replies to the official NUFC Tweet…:

Alex Kay-Jelski (Editor In Chief of The Athletic):

‘Not sure whether I’d rather they said nothing or did this.

The hypocrisy. But yet sure there are plenty of good people who aren’t the owners who really mean it.’

Pablo Blanco (NUFC fan):

‘Amazing take. You’re going to need to consider that if the people running the club are able to get this message out then it’s very possibly a good sign going forward. If sport washing is a thing, so is the power of sport to do good. Give my club a chance.’

Lee Robson (NUFC fan):

‘If you don’t support this, don’t support our football club. United.’

Oleout (Man Utd fan):

‘You are [email protected] son of [email protected]

You are not a son of a man, you are not a man, you are a nobody, a son of nobody.’

Perfect Patson (Leicester fan):

‘Awkward for you owners.’

Kai Harding (NUFC fan):

‘How can we tweet this being owned by Saudis.’

David Burnett (NUFC fan):

‘Videos like this make me proud to be British. Proper values and openness to subjects (such as sexuality in this case). It’s important to accept and be inclusive and to encourage peace and to have these rights. Well done Josh.

Iftisal (Barcelona fan):

‘I ask you to remove the Saudi flag, because this does not honor us.’

Stephen (NUFC fan (replying to Barcelona fan commenting above)):

‘You aren’t one of us. So no need to be here.’

Luke (Sunderland fan):

‘The club – not the fans, passion or pride (ironically) – posted this. they’d have done well to keep quiet.’

Abdullah (NUFC fan):

‘Newcastle United is right with you، we all supporting you.’

Muzz (NUFC fan):

‘A club isn’t the owners. It’s the fans. The City. The History. If you’ve come here to have a pop at Newcastle fans because you disagree with Middle Easterners views on homosexuality, don’t bother. It has NOTHING to do with us.’

Max (Man Utd fan):

‘If you’re passively accepting the PIF ownership of your club without any kind of resistance or complaint, and continuing to support it financially, you’re complicit.’

Footy Beers (NUFC fan):

‘Newcastle United is for everyone, our new Saudi fans in the comments… educate yourselves.’

Jack Peterson (NUFC fan):

‘They will just be fake accounts for sure.’

Jordan Moody (NUFC fan):

‘GEORDIES support this. Good on ya lad.’

Laura (NUFC fan):

‘All the trolls on here….. run back to your own clubs twitter.’

JHM:

‘If you look at the bios of the so called Saudi fans most have Man Utd or LFC in their bio.’

Luke Edwards (The Telegraph):

‘Where do you start with this? I’d read replies first, then read what happens to gay people in Saudi Arabia. Do you believe PIF is separate from State? Do you believe Amanda Staveley runs club? Do you care? Does it matter? It should do. This is right message for club to tweet but’

Mumba88 (NUFC fan):

‘I’m confused, has the club support for @UtdwithPride changed since the new ownership?

I don’t believe it has so why wouldn’t the official account support this and drive home such an important message which the majority of the fan base support?’

Luke Edwards (The Telegraph):

‘Read up on what the new ownership thinks of Gay people. The 80% stakeholders and then ask yourself would PIF have tweeted this from their own social media accounts. It’s challenging, it’s difficult, it puts your head in a spin but we must talk about these things.’

Mumba88 (NUFC fan):

‘I am a gay person, I have read up on it and I have spoken about it on social media and radio. I am comfortable with my views.

So again, has the clubs support for @UtdwithPride changed since the new ownership or is the club still representing the same views it believes in…’

Luke Edwards (NUFC fan):

‘I’m glad you are comfortable. Lots of people aren’t.

I will continue to highlight issues I see fit to highlight. I will also write about football. The two, in my job, go hand I hand. I have also spoken about this. I certainly won’t be silenced. Think people know that by now.’

The club is owned by people who fundamentally disagree with the message because homosexuality is illegal on the government’s say so. So they will also disagree with the relationship with United with Pride if you think about it. What more do you want me to say?’

Gareth Coffey (NUFC fan):

‘Could it also be with more focus and scrunity on the activities in KSA that actually it helps progress things there……wasn’t that long ago being gay was illegal in N.Ire hopefully their ownership will encourage positive change.’

Then there is of course the added irony, that Twitter is part Saudi owned…

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