Newcastle United’s Austria opponent lashes back at fans over Saudi morale outrage

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Newcastle United have faced a backlash after announcing friendlies against 1860 Munich and Mainz 05 in Austria.

1860 Munich manager Michael Kollner has responded to criticism surrounding his side’s pre-season friendly with Newcastle United.

The third-tier German side face the Magpies on Friday, July 15 at the Saalfelden Arena before going up against Mainz 05 at the Kutstein Arena three days later.

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A Mainz fan group recently published an open letter requesting the match to be cancelled citing Saudi Arabia’s human rights record. United are 80% owned by the country’s Public Investment Fund.

“You always have to be a bit careful when conducting a moral discussion,” Kollner told Abendzeitung Munchen. “I find that difficult because you can find something wrong with everyone.

1860 Munich manager Michael Kollner. (Photo by Ronny Hartmann/Getty Images for DFB)1860 Munich manager Michael Kollner. (Photo by Ronny Hartmann/Getty Images for DFB)
1860 Munich manager Michael Kollner. (Photo by Ronny Hartmann/Getty Images for DFB) | Getty Images for DFB

“In recent years we have always struggled to find good opponents.”

Mainz coach Bo Svensson also decided his side’s decision to take on Newcastle.

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He told Bild: He said: “On the one hand, I can understand the arguments. Whenever it comes to football, things become very inflated and become huge issues.

“How far are we going? Will we also then ban Disney films with our children?”

Eddie Howe’s side host National League side Gateshead in a behind closed doors friendly before heading out to Austria for a one-week training camp.

The Magpies have also confirmed friendlies against Benfica, as well as back-to-back games against Atalanta and Athletic Bilbao at St James’ Park before kicking off the Premier League campaign versus newly-promoted Nottingham Forest.

The United players - excluding internationals such as Bruno Guimaraes, Kieran Trippier and Miguel Almiron - reported back for pre-season training on Friday morning.

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