Newcastle United fans group subjected to horrific abuse for supporting their team
Newcastle United fans have found themselves under attack because of the change of ownership at St James Park.
Nothing new there you might think…
However, on this occasion we are talking specifically about the Newcastle United fans who volunteer as part of United with Pride, which is the Newcastle United LGBTQ+ fans group.
One of the co-chairs of the volunteer group has been making public just how bad the abuse has been since the NUFC takeover.
As for what they have actually (supposedly) done wrong, well, it is very much the same story as everybody else who is a Newcastle supporter.
That we as Newcastle United fans are caught in an impossible position, having had no say in who owns our football club, we are now expected to answer for who owns our club AND have the answers as to what can be done to solve the human rights issues in Saudi Arabia.
Like every other fanbase, Newcastle United fans don’t have another football club to support, we are stuck with NUFC whether we like it or not.
Nobody wanted 14+ years of what we have experienced under Mike Ashley but we came to realise that if a multi-billionaire doesn’t want to sell your club, there is in reality nothing you can do to force that issue. Now Newcastle United have owners with wealth that dwarfs Ashley’s billions.
Like the rest of us, the Newcastle United fans group United with Pride were landed with this situation with no warning, the takeover suddenly reported to be potentially back on…and within 24 hours completed on Thursday 7 October 2021.
The United with Pride co-chair saying: ‘It’s difficult to see where the value is in helping LGBT people in Saudi Arabia by attacking football fans here who just want to go to a game and sit in an environment where they feel safe to be their authentic selves.’
The Newcastle United fans group decided to take the long-term approach and rather than ‘burn their bridges’ straight away, play a waiting game to see what the new NUFC ownership are going to do, try to work constructively with them potentially to produce some positives. Whilst still retaining the option to go on the offensive with the new club owners if they feel they are being used as puppets by the new regime.
Reality is, in their unique position as a Newcastle United LGBTQ+ fans group, they were going to get criticism / abuse whatever they did or didn’t do.
An ironic and sad fact, considering they have volunteered and come forward to try something positive for others by being part of the group.
Good luck to those involved in United with Pride.
Ian Pearson-Brown, Co-Chair of United with Pride (The Newcastle United LGBTQ+ fans group) talking to BBC Sport – 24 November 2021:
“It’s been a harrowing five weeks.
“I’m feeling very jaded because a lot of the positive work we’ve done is all completely lost.
“The positive side was: ‘Well, at least we’re not for sale any more.”
“So the relief was that we are no longer on this cliff edge.
“We all knew there was going to be a lot of spotlight and interest on our views from a human rights perspective.
“But the narrative has been hijacked by some people who believe that we, as football fans, should be doing something about the human rights issues in Saudi Arabia because our owner is from that country and has taken a role in running it.
“Now, there are arguments for and against that, and we’ve taken a position that everyone in our group has been OK with. But some groups outside of the north-east have gone on the attack.
“It’s difficult to see where the value is in helping LGBT people in Saudi Arabia by attacking football fans here who just want to go to a game and sit in an environment where they feel safe to be their authentic selves.
“One of the things that makes it really challenging for us to want to keep going isn’t that we have Saudi Arabian owners.
“It’s that we know that, whatever we do from this point onwards, we’re going to get a lot of social media abuse.
“In recent weeks, we weren’t able to enjoy the day that Josh Cavallo came out. That was a landmark day for anybody who has devoted time to improving the environment in sport for people to be their authentic self.
“But that day we had to spend trawling through the latest social media pile-on because Newcastle United had tweeted congratulations, and there was just so much traffic and abusive comments around that.
“It’s been quite a difficult time for us as volunteers and mental health has become a really challenging situation.
“I’ve had people on the verge of walking away, resigning, downing tools and such like – not because they disagree with the position that we’re in, but because of the sheer volume and weight of online abuse we receive.
“We can’t do anything at present about conditions in Saudi Arabia. If we get the chance to do that further down the line with our relationship with Newcastle United, then we will absolutely do it.
“And if we get a sense for a second that we’re being used as a puppet by some regime, then you’ll find we’ll be releasing a different statement – and you may well see us protesting outside of the stadium.
“But until that happens, we’re not going to jump the gun and burn all our bridges.
“That doesn’t mean our members are not empathetic with the people of Saudi Arabia. It just means they want us to take a pragmatic approach.
“If you want to improve the conditions for people in Saudi Arabia, talk to Amnesty International, talk to the Saudi consulate, talk to the UK government who engage with them all of the time.
“We have zero influence on who owns Newcastle United Football Club… and we just hope that, over time, people come to realise that attacking us doesn’t get the results you want.”
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