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No police action over Saudi protest banner by Palace fans

London – Metropolitan Police said yesterday no further action will be taken after an investigation into a banner unveiled by Crystal Palace fans protesting the Saudi-led takeover of Newcastle.

The banner, on display at Selhurst Park during Palace’s 1-1 draw with Newcastle on Saturday, highlighted human rights issues in Saudi Arabia and criticised the Premier League’s owners’ and directors’ test.

The Premier League gave the go-ahead for a £305 million (RM1.74 billion) takeover earlier this month despite the Saudi sovereign wealth fund being the majority financer of the deal.

A statement on the official Croydon Metropolitan Police Twitter account read: “On Saturday, a member of the public contacted us to raise concerns about a banner displayed at the Crystal Palace vs Newcastle match at Selhurst Park.

“Following an assessment, officers have concluded that no offences have been committed. No further action will be taken.”

The banner featured illustrations of a man dressed in traditional Arabic clothing alongside a depiction of Premier League chief executive Richard Masters.

Listed on a picture of a clipboard under the headline ‘Premier League Owners Test’ were ‘Terrorism, beheading, civil rights abuses, murder, censorship and persecution’.

Palace supporters group Holmesdale Fanatics, who made the banner, accused the Premier League of hypocrisy.

In a statement they said: “The Saudi led takeover of Newcastle has rightly received widespread condemnation and anger.

“To give the thumbs up to this deal at a time when the Premier League is promoting the women’s game and inclusive initiatives such as rainbow armbands, shows the total hypocrisy at play and demonstrates the league’s soulless agenda where profits trump all.”

Amnesty International have criticised the takeover as a Saudi attempt to “sportswash” its human rights record. — AFP

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