The store in Riyadh is part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s efforts to make the kingdom a sporting hub. This move has been criticized by some as “sportswashing” given the country’s restrictions and controversial human rights record.
Alcohol prohibition in Saudi Arabia has been in place since 1952, following an incident involving the death of a British diplomat. This law required officials to import alcohol in sealed packages.
Customers at the store are asked for diplomatic identification and required to place their mobile phones in pouches while inside. The surprise development has prompted fans to question the influence of Saudi Arabia on Newcastle United’s decisions.
The decision to open the store has sparked discussions among fans, with some using terms like “GeordieWashing” and “Magwashing” to express their opinions on the Saudi influence at the club.
A Liverpool fan account posted a meme of Jordan Henderson, who left the country for Ajax after a short stint with Al-Ettifaq, highlighting the connection between players and Saudi clubs.