by Tony Attwood
Somehow, somewhere there has to be a hierarchy of priorities. Because just in the nature of things, certain aspects of life are more important than others.
And so it is in football. But unfortunately the hierarchy is upside down.
Consider this: what is the more important – the total abolition of human rights, of the breach of copyright? Both may be matters that concern us (and as a writer myself, I have tried to ensure my rights under copyright law are protected). But is that more important than basic human rights? I think not.
Yet no one raises any objections to Saudi Arabia playing international matches, while its citizens are denied basic human rights. No one objected to Saudi Arabia taking over Newcastle United on the grounds of a total lack of human rights in that country.
But when copyright issues turn up, oh yes, it is a fulsome all-out investigation into the Saudi takeover, and the chances are it might now be stopped. Because of copyright.
Saudi Arabia has a criminal code which allows punishments include public beheading, stoning, amputation and lashing.
And these are not just handed down for murder or rape, they are also the punishments for theft, robbery the deliberate abandonment of Islam by a Muslim in word or through deed, adultery, witchcraft and sorcery.
The rules are enforced by the religious police who are separate from the secret police who are separate from the police. Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have detailed the crimes of these organisations which operate as part of the basic framework of the state, endlessly. No one seems to care.
Homosexuality is illegal and severely punished, there is no religious freedom, women are third rate citizens, there is no rule of law.
But hey, who cares, let Saudi Arabia take over Newcastle United. Fine, go ahead. No objections here.
Oh, but no, wait a minute. Saudi Arabia as part of its cold war with Qatar runs a copyright-infringing TV station. Right. Stop the takeover.
Isn’t there something utterly sickening about this: that human rights count for utterly nothing and we’ll play football against the most appallingly abusive regimes in the world, but when it comes to copyright oh well no that is a step too far.
Copyright is important, and I support the upholding of copyright law so that I get royalties on the things I have written. But it is not more important than basic human rights.
If the Premier League had any credibility at all there would be a fit and proper persons test when there is a takeover of a Premier League club.
But oh, yes there is one, it is called the Owners and Directors Test and it is there to ensure that all the directors of a club are people will not damage the integrity and the image of the Premier League,
And the trouble with it is that it relates almost utterly to Directors. It does not relate to owners. Although in the rule book there is “Clubs: Finance and Governance Section F: Owners’ and Directors’ Test” the section on owners does not require the owners to be a fit and proper person. There are a few restrictions but none of the “fit and proper person” variety that apply to directors.
So virtually anyone can become an owner, and then appoint directors to do his or her bidding.
Now this allowance of anyone to hold a controlling interest in a club no matter what their human rights record is not something the media talk about. But when it comes to copyright – oh yes the media wants copyright protected, so from day one that is the issue they have latched onto. When the League’s media partner BeIN raised the issue, our media dutifully jumped to attention and started huffing and puffing about Saudi Arabia’s complicity in copyright theft. Complicity in murder, repression, tyranny, torture, denial of basic rights? No, not our business. But copyright theft… wow, let’s get em.
So yes I do worry about copyright, and I do try to protect my copyrights, but I don’t put copyright issues above human rights.
And yet this is what our media does. And why? Because the media in the UK is always concerned about copyright, and it will always put its interests ahead of anything else. Which is also why they don’t report the machinations of Fifa – stories that are making the news daily in Europe because they don’t want to upset Fifa in case England puts in another bid to host the world cup.
At a time when Britain has been celebrating VE Day and the victory over an appalling murdering regime which denied human rights to everyone it didn’t like, the Premier League is opening the doors to an appalling murdering regime which denies human rights to everyone it doesn’t like. And our media has not said a word – except on the issue of copyright.
- City Group’s expansion is starting to run into legal complexities
- Football in England and Scotland reveals exactly how an organisation should not be run.
- Premier League football approaches the cliff edge, but no one seems to mind
- The outside forces that could turn football upside down
- The Premier League action against Man City brings Super League ever closer
- What Europe knows about Man C but the English press haven’t told you
- Arsenal v Manchester City Women’s Continental League Cup semi-final – match preview
- How Man City’s problems began to arise…. nine years ago
- The media pile into Manchester City, but where have they been all this time?