Newcastle United has announced that St. James’ park, their home ground, will host two Saudi Arabia friendlies in September.

The Green Falcons will first play Costa Rica on September 8 before facing South Korea four days later.

The two games will form as part of preparations as part of the 2024 AFC Asian Cup.

In October 2021, Newcastle was successfully acquired by Saudi Arabia with 80% of the money coming from the state’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).

Due to Saudi Arabia’s dismal record on human rights, the PIF acquisition has generated controversy since it was finalized. Amnesty International demanded that the Premier League reevaluate the agreement earlier this year.

The choice to stage the international matches at St. James’ Park was criticized by Sacha Deshmukh, chief executive of Amnesty International, as another illustation of “how sportswashing works.”

Saudi Arabia were the only side to beat 2022 World Cup champions Argentina during the Mundial and have since lost their head coach Herve Renard to the women’s team of France.

Former Italy head coach Roberto Mancini has been linked with the vacant role.

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