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Eddie Howe repeatedly avoids questions over Saudi Arabia’s human rights violations

Eddie Howe avoids questions over Saudi ownership.

Eddie Howe conducted his first press conference as Newcastle United manager on Wednesday and it didn’t take long for questions over human rights violations in Saudi Arabia to come up.

The Magpies were sold to a Saudi-led consortium in October and after Steve Bruce was relieved of his managerial duties on October 20th, Eddie Howe was finally confirmed as his replacement on Monday of this week.

Eddie Howe: “My focus is football.”

The ex-Bournemouth manager faced the media today and amid the usual questions about football, he was given a number of opportunities to offer his opinion on human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia.

“For me, this was a football decision. I’m absolutely delighted to be manager of Newcastle and that’s may only focus.” the 43-year-old said when asked if the situation in Saudi Arabia was something he considered when taking the job.

“My focus is football. Running the team, managing the players. That’s all I’m going to talk about and that’s all that I’m going to think about,” was Howe’s answer when a reporter suggested that he is known as a “principled” manager and one who was one of the first in the Premier League to take a pay cut during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Howe’s answers appeared to have been rehearsed.

“Life isn’t all about football, what questions have you asked of this project?” the reporter responded, to which Howe replied: “As I said, I’m going to repeat myself, it’s about football for me. That’s all I’m going to concern myself with.”

Howe looked visibly relieved when the line of questioning returned to footballing matters but it’s clear that he had a couple of lines rehearsed beforehand for when the questions over Newcastle’s ownership inevitably cropped up.

The press conference will have been a lesson to him that taking over the Newcastle job in this day and age won’t be just about coaching and will be a far cry from what he became used to in the quieter environment of Bournemouth on England’s south coast, where expectations never really stretched beyond keeping the club in the Premier League.

The questions Howe faced today are unlikely to be the last he has to bat away about Newcastle’s ownership and with the club’s new-found wealth set to thrust them into the international spotlight, handling uncomfortable questions might be something he has to get used to.

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