The Premier League has approved a rule that bans people found to have committed human rights abuses from owning or directing football clubs.
The changes were approved unanimously on Thursday by England’s top-flight football clubs at a shareholders meeting and took immediate effect.
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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 the Premier League.
The new rules also mean a person or company subject to British government sanctions would be disqualified.
The range of crimes 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 if they are under investigation for conduct that would result in a “disqualifying event” if proven.
The rules took effect at a time when ownership of Premier League clubs is under renewed scrutiny as bidders line up for Manchester United.
A consortium led by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund acquired Newcastle United in 2021 after assurances that the Saudi government would have no control of the northeast club.
Amnesty International has called the takeover “a clear attempt by the Saudi authorities to sportswash their appalling human rights record with the glamour of top-flight football”.
A member of Qatar’s royal family, Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, is fronting one of the groups seeking to buy Manchester United from the Glazer family.
Qatar, which hosted the 2022 World Cup, has faced criticism for its treatment of foreign workers. Qatar has denied the charges and said it has been working with a United Nations agency to address labour issues.
Another measure adopted on Thursday lowers the threshold for what constitutes control of a club from 30 percent to 25 percent.
The scope of insolvency provisions was also broadened to enable the league to take action against people “involved in previous insolvencies in a wider range of circumstances”.