, 30 tweets, 10 min read Read on Twitter
A lot has been written about Manchester City & the ethical issues surrounding it's owner Sheikh Mansour. The response to pieces by @EwanMacKenna @RorySmith @tariqpanja @MiguelDelaney & @NcGeehan has been depressing: denial, deflection & whataboutism. So here's a thread (1/)
Much of the issue surrounds the ownership's culpability in some bad things the UAE's involved in. The UAE & Saudi led war in Yemen, supported by the US & UK, is one. Here's something from one of the best foreign correspondents around @GhaithAbdulahad
There's the jailing and alleged torture of activists in the UAE and Yemen. Here's something on the the torture camps being run by the UAE in Yemen.

And this on how dissent in the UAE has been crushed. The case of Ahmed Mansoor, in particular, is appalling.

The terrible treatment of migrant workers who make up 90 percent of the UAE's population is a third issue. Human Rights Watch's 2019 World Report highlights how “[l]abor abuses persist. Migrant construction workers face serious exploitation.”

The question is: to what degree is Sheikh Mansour & others like City's chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak culpable for the country's political decision making? The UAE isn't a democracy, it's an autocratic monarchy (with some limited democratic input from the Federal National Council).
Abu Dhabi is the biggest and most powerful of the seven emirates, with the most oil and the political power derived from the country's (well respected) founding father Sheikh Zayed.
Sheikh Mansour is one of the Bani Fatima: the six sons of Sheikh Zayed's favourite wife Fatima. Almost all political and economic power resides here. Mohammed bin Zayed (MBZ), the crown prince, is also one of the six and is Sheikh Mansour's brother.
Sheikh Mansour is one of the most powerful figures in the UAE. He is not only the deputy prime minister but also the minister for presidential affairs. He controls access to the president (who is allegedly in bad health).
MBZ effectively now runs the country and has turned it into one of the most advanced surveillance security states in the world. There's some interesting detail in this story...

MBZ is also chairman of the UAE's largest sovereign investment fund Mubadala. Mansour is vice chairman, Khaldoon al Mubarak is CEO (more on him in a bit).

Sheikh Mansour is at the highest level of political, economic and royal power, part of a small group that controls all the organs of the state. I would argue that is directly relevant to the ownership of Manchester City.
Should he, and Manchester City, be held accountable for his country's actions? That is the $64,000 question. I would certainly say the same if Manchester United was owned by political figure from Saudi Arabia. Or Liverpool by the royal family of Bahrain.
So, let's talk about Khaldoon al Mubarak. City's chairman. There's been many emails leaked which purport to show Mubarak as a man allegedly willing to destroy UEFA if it tried to hold City to account. He's central in @DerSPIEGEL's reporting on this story.

Mubarak is an interesting figure. He's not a member of the royal family but has been MBZ's right hand man for many years and holds both political and economic clout. He's the CEO of Mubadala but also holds numerous other positions.
Mubarak is chairman of Abu Dhabi's Executive Affairs Authority and sits on the Executive Council, which assists the ruler in the running of the emirate. He is also a trustee at NYU (more on this in a bit)

His importance to the UAE can be seen in several well reported stories. Like this from the @guardian which shows the UAE putting pressure on the UK government to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist entity or lose arms contracts. theguardian.com/world/2015/nov…
When then PM Cameron sent a former amb. too Abu Dhabi, it was Mubarak who met him. He was quoted as saying: "the UK will need to consider the political implications ... the difficult conversations we’ve been having, will become far more difficult. We are raising a red flag."
Also interesting is the role of Simon Pearce, a PR man and director of City and a key advisor to MBZ. He allegedly drew up a briefing document before a meeting with Cameron setting out how MBZ should tell Cameron that the BBC had been infiltrated by the Brotherhood (!)
Pearce comes up frequently in the email leaks of Yousef al Otaiba, the UAE's amb. to Washington. @NcGeehan has written the best summary of those.

Although the @theintercept also did some fine reporting about what the UAE was up to behind the scenes from those emails....

Back to NYU, where Mubarak was a trustee. A campus was established in Abu Dhabi. AD provided $50 million for it. Problem was, the campus was built with exploited labour, some of whom would later claim they were tortured and deported.

Even stranger, after this story came out the lead reporter on that story @seanpodriscoll was harassed by the UAE police, offered the chance to be an informer on his colleagues and eventually barred from the country. Here's something he wrote about it.

I travelled to Bangladesh to hear some of the workers horror stories myself. They never received any compensation for what happened to them. Here's something on the industry that takes Bangladeshis to the Gulf, and exploits them on every step of the way

This is just the tip of the iceberg. The issue of bias will no doubt come up. That criticism is somehow based in football tribalism. For the record much of my work has centred on the Middle East after I moved to the UAE in 2004.
I've reported from every country in the region. Held Qatar's feet to the fire over the kafala system. Reported on Bahrain's appalling treatment of dissidents. On Saudi Arabia's terrible human rights record.
I've visited dozens of labour camps & heard the stories of the men held in what is effectively indentured slavery. Interviewed activists like @iyad_elbaghdadi who have experienced the force of the UAE security state. Footballers like @hakeem07746464 who were jailed in Bahrain.
And I've I written about investors from UAE, Russia, China, Thailand, the US and more in my book The Billionaires Club. But only Manchester City and PSG are owned and funded, effectively, by states. (and yes, PSG & Qatar do figure, perhaps even more prominently, in my book).
Football is a dirty, dirty business right now. There's lots to report and write about. But I'd argue that Manchester City, if anything, has been given an easy ride since 2008 whilst the focus has been on Qatar.
Anyway, you can read more about this in the Billionaires Club: The Unstoppable Rise of Football's Super-Rich owners.

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