·16 February 2023
·16 February 2023
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has been urged by human rights advocacy group FairSquare to block any Qatar-based bid for Manchester United.
The Glazers announced last November they were exploring the possibility of a sale. American merchant bankers Raine are overseeing the process.
It was reported on Wednesday that Qatari investors are confident they will be able to acquire the Premier League club from the Glazer family.
There are quite a few parties interested in buying the Red Devils, including lifelong fan and one of Britain’s richest men, Sir Jim Ratcliffe.
There is a potential issue in Qatar’s bid to take over the Old Trafford club, however. They also own French champions Paris Saint-Germain via Qatar Sports Investments.
And under UEFA regulations, two clubs that are controlled by the same entity can not both qualify for competitions such as the Champions League.
Said regulations state that “no individual or legal entity may have control or influence over more than one club participating in a UEFA club competition”.
Human rights research and advocacy group FairSquare have taken it upon themselves to write a letter to UEFA president Ceferin, copying in general secretary Theodore Theodoridis and Premier League chief executive Richard Masters, urging United’s takeover to be unable to go ahead while QSI still owns PSG.
The letter states: “A basic study of Qatar’s political and economic system amply demonstrates the impossibility of any Qatari consortium proving itself independent of state influence, and thus separate from the ownership of PSG.
“Freedom House’s World Freedom Index classifies Qatar as ‘not free’, and its most recent assessment is highly critical of Qatar’s record on the rule of law, corruption, and political participation: ‘Qatar’s hereditary emir holds all executive and legislative authority and ultimately controls the judiciary.’
“UEFA’s Statutes are very clear on the critical importance of ensuring that no single party can exercise control or influence over more than one club, and this is all the more important when the owners are states.
“State ownership of European football clubs jeopardises the integrity of the game, its proclaimed values and its sustainability.”
There is also a mention of the investigation by law enforcement in Belgium amidst reports of Qatar being the “primary source of funds used to bribe numerous European politicians”, which has led to “the European Parliament suspending access to Qatari representatives to the parliament premises and to halt all pending legislation involving Qatar”. Qatar has obviously denied this.
Last week, UEFA happened to mention the issue of multi-club investment in its European Club Footballing Landscape.
“The rise of multi-club investment has the potential to pose a material threat to the integrity of European club competitions, with a growing risk of seeing two clubs with the same owner or investor facing each other on the pitch,” it said.
United will be hoping UEFA are lenient after being persuaded by RB Salzburg and RB Leipzig that they are controlled by separate entities despite both being closely associated with Red Bull.
Both Red Bull clubs have competed in the Champions League in the same season. There is hope, United fans. If you even want to be owned by Qataris.
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