‘Well said’: Newcastle United owner praised over Iran protest message

Protests continue in Iran after a 22-year-old woman died after being detained by police for wearing a hijab in an “improper” way.

Newcastle United owner Mehrdad Ghodoussi has been praised by fans after issuing a message of support to those protesting for women's rights in Iran.

Protests have gripped the nation since Masha Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman, died on Friday, September 16 while being detained by the morality police in Tehran for wearing a hijab in an "improper" way. The tragedy sparked protests with people chanting “women, life and freedom” and "death to the dictator" as women share videos burning their headscarves. The protests are believed to be one of the boldest challenges to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution.

Newcastle United co-owner Mehrdad Ghodoussi took to Twitter on Tuesday evening to share words of support for the brave women protesting against repression. The businessman shared an image of what appeared to be schoolgirls holding up a middle finger to former and current Iranian Supreme Leaders Ruhollah Khomeini and Ali Khamenei.

Along with the photo, Ghodoussi wrote: "In awe of these young women [red heart emoji] #WomenLifeFreedom #IranRevolution2022 #iran #Iranprotets2022."

Newcastle United fans took to the replies to praise Ghodoussi for speaking out against the injustice and using his platform to do so.

One fan replied: "Well done @ghodoussi speaking out on this issue. What brave young women these are. Let’s hope they get the education and future they deserve."

Another said: "Brave young women who definitely deserve a better future and education and will succeed by standing UNITED!"

Others wrote "we're with you boss" and "well said Mehrdad".

People take part in a rally on the Malieveld following the death of the Iranian Mahsa Amini in The Hague on October 8, 2022

The statement comes less than a week after the Newcastle United owners celebrated a year at the club. In a series of content looking at the impact of new ownership on the city's mood and economy, NewcastleWorld heard from Newcastle-upon-Tyne Central MP Chi Onwurah, who welcomed the uplift that has come from new owners but called for more social action.

Ms Onwurah said: "I am also pleased to see that the Club is engaging more constructively with fans, and that the Club have been more active in their support for a diverse and inclusive United fanbase. This is all to be welcomed. Fans are at the heart of the beautiful game and It has been a great honour to be able to champion Newcastle United fans in Parliament and beyond.

Newcastle MP Chi Onwurah is an advocate for the club (Image: Chi Onwurah)

“At the same time, the reality is that Saudi Arabia, whose sovereign wealth fund is the effective owner of Newcastle United, continues to have an atrocious human rights record—in some respects, such as the treatment of women, among the worst in the world. This does not reflect the values of our city. In May of this year, I raised in Parliament the horrific massacre of 81 people in Saudi Arabia. Saudi ownership of Newcastle United should lead to greater focus on the violence and repression of the Saudi government, not sportswash it.

“Newcastle United is a community institution. The fans are the life of the football club and the team is the heart of our community. But throughout our country the fans do not get a say in who owns their clubs despite being the true source of the club’s value. That is determined by the Premier League within a framework set by Government. To hold Newcastle United fans accountable for Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses, as some have sought to do, is to misdirect legitimate anger. Instead, we need to campaign for more transparency and accountability in football, and a bigger say for fans and I pledge to keep up that fight as long as I have the privilege to serve the people of Newcastle. I look forward to working with Amanda Staveley and Mehrdad Ghodoussi in the interests of my constituents and the wider football family.”