The manager opted not to talk about the events which occurred in the country of the clubs owners

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe said he was just going to stick to football when asked about recent events in Saudi Arabia, where 81 people were executed over the weekend.

This weekend saw Saudi Arabias biggest mass execution in decades, with those killed accused of everything fromjoining militant groups to holding “deviant beliefs”, according to the interior ministry.

Newcastle United are owned by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund and, when asked about the events of the weekend, Howe said he wanted to speak specifically about Sundays loss to Chelsea.

A total of 81 people were executed on Saturday, a number dwarfing the67 executions reported in Saudi Arabia in all of 2021 and the 27 from all of 2020.

“These individuals, totalling 81, were convicted of various crimes including murdering innocent men, women and children,” the statement read.

“Crimes committed by these individuals also include pledging allegiance to foreign terrorist organisations, such as ISIS (Islamic State), al-Qaeda and the Houthis.”

Those executed also included 37 Saudi nationals who were found guilty in a single case for attempting to assassinate security officers and targeting police stations and convoys, the statement added.

With this weekends events, Saudi Arabia is back in the news as the country continues to be criticised for its record when it comes to human rights.

“There are prisoners of conscience on Saudi death row, and others arrested as children or charged with non-violent crimes,” Soraya Bauwens, deputy director of anti-death penalty charity Reprieve, said in a statement.

“We fear for every one of them following this brutal display of impunity,” she added.

Given the clubs Saudi Arabian connections, Newcastle boss Howe was asked to comment on the political climate in the country, but he refused to discuss non-football-related events

“Im just going to stick to football,” he said after his sides 1-0 loss to Chelsea, which came via a late goal from Kai Havertz. “Im still bitterly disappointed about the result.”

Newcastles opponents, Chelsea, have also come under fire due to their ownership situation, with Roman Abramovich recently being sanctioned by the UK government for his connections to Vladimir Putin.

Critics of the sanctions, which have impacted the football club dramatically, have pointed to Newcastles ownership situation and the governments decision not to condemn the events in Saudi Arabia.

Tuchel was asked about the executions and the lack of response in comparison to those that have impacted Chelsea, but the German said he doesnt want to compare the situations.

“Wow, that is a big one,” Tuchel said. “Unfortunately, the situation is like this also for the owners of Newcastle and that effects, yes.

“What can I say? I dont want to point the finger because comparing yourself or blaming others does not make the situation for us a different situation.

“The statement, that we condemn war and the actions from Russia towards Ukraine, there is no doubt. But were facing the consequences actually at the moment and this is where the focus is. I hope you can understand.”

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