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New rules bar human rights abusers from owning Premier League clubs

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An individual who has committed human rights abuses will be unable to be an owner or director of a Premier League football club under new rules approved on Thursday.

Human rights abuses, based on the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020, will be one of a number of additional “disqualifying events” under a strengthened owners’ and directors’ test for England’s top flight.

The new rules, approved unanimously by clubs and to be applied with immediate effect, also mean a person or company subject to British government sanctions would be disqualified.

The range of criminal offences that would result in disqualification has been extended to include offences involving violence, corruption, fraud, tax evasion and hate crimes.

The Premier League also has the power to bar people from becoming directors when they are under investigation for conduct that would result in a “disqualifying event” if proven.

English football chiefs have been criticised by rights groups, including Amnesty International, for allowing Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) to fund a takeover of Newcastle, despite their concerns over the country’s human rights record.

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Peter Frankental, Amnesty International UK’s economic affairs director, responded to Thursday’s announcement by saying that it is “a step in the right direction”.

“But it’ll make little difference unless powerful individuals linked to serious human rights violations overseas are definitively barred from taking control of Premier League clubs and using them for state sportswashing,” he added.

“Would, for instance, a future bid involving Saudi or Qatari sovereign wealth funds be blocked by this rule change? It’s far from clear that they would.”

A member of the Qatar royal family, Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, is fronting one of the groups seeking to buy Manchester United.

However, it was reported that he had put in a bid as an individual and he is not backed by the state, which has faced criticism for its treatment of foreign workers, a ban on homosexuality and curbs on political expression.

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It is not clear how the enhanced rules will affect Newcastle, or the Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City.

On Tuesday, Premier League chief executive Richard Masters was unable to say if the league had launched an investigation into who had control of Newcastle, if the state of Saudi Arabia has any part in it.

He told a committee of lawmakers: “I can’t really comment on it. I mean, even to the point of whether the Premier League is investigating it, we can’t really comment.”

AFP/Reuters

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Premier League

Another Nigerian blood replaces Ndidi at Leicester

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Wilfred Ndidi who has just left Leicester City will have another Nigerian blood replacing him.

Leicester has never been without a Nigerian since Ahmed Musa joined in 2016. Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho joined in 2017.

Another Nigerian blood, Caleb Okoli, a centre back, has just been signed from Italian  Serie A side Atalanta on a five-year contract. Born in Itali, Caleb Okoli is Igbo and Yoruba by descent.

The 22-year-old, who spent the last season on loan at Frosinone Calcio, represented Italy at the European Under-21 Championship last year.

“I think now is the right moment (for me) to make a step forward and a very big one. I’m very happy with the choice I made, so I’m very excited to start in the Premier League,” Okoli said in a statement. The clubs did not disclose financial details of the deal.

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Ruud van Nistelrooy returns to Man United

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United legend Van Nistelrooy is expected to be announced as one of Erik ten Hag's assistants

Manchester United legend, Ruud van Nistelrooy has been spotted being driven into Carrington, the training ground of Manchester United.

Ruud van Nistelrooy (left) and Rene Hake arrived at Manchester United’s training ground

Reports have it that the Dutchman is set to be appointed as one of Erik ten Hag’s new assistant coaches.

He played for Manchester United from 2001 to 2006.

Now  48, he reportedly turned down job offer from Burnley to return to his old club, having previously led PSV Eindhoven to second place in the Eredivisie and victory in the Dutch Cup.

He is being joined by Rene Hake, 52, who was persuaded to give up his job as Go Ahead Eagles manager despite leading the Deventer-based club into Europe for only the third time in their history.

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Chelsea make improved offer for Victor Osimhen

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Chelsea have increased their efforts to lure long-term target and Super Eagles striker, Victor Osimhen, to Stamford Bridge.

According to TEAMtalk, Chelsea is prepared to include Romelu Lukaku and Cesare Casadei in a deal with Napoli to reduce the cost of acquiring Osimhen.

In December, the 25-year-old forward extended his contract with Napoli following a stellar season, committing to stay at the Diego Maradona Stadium until 2026.

Despite being linked with potential transfers to Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal, and other elite teams, recent events have changed the landscape.

Earlier reports claimed Chelsea withdrew due to concerns about his injury history, PSG failed to attract his interest, and Arsenal was unable to afford his release clause. As a result, the Super Eagles star was expected to remain at Napoli.

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However, recent reports confirm that the Blues are willing to proceed with the deal regardless. Lukaku is interested in a switch to join Antonio Conte at Napoli, while Osimhen is keen on a move to the English Premier League.

While there have been no comments from Osimhen’s camp or Chelsea, this summer transfer window is anticipated to be one of the hottest, with Man United, Chelsea, and Arsenal set to lock horns for Osimhen’s signature.

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