A tale of two Mansoors

When Liverpool came off the pitch against Barcelona last Wednesday night, it was a harsh reminder that you don’t always get what you deserve in life.

Liverpool were by many accounts including my own, the better side on the night but Messi brought his magic to the party for a few minutes and the rest as they say is history.

There is no doubt that Liverpool have had a fair measure of luck this season on the pitch. It’s the luck that you need to even compete in a title race let alone win it and it’s the same luck that scousers like myself used to bemoan Manchester United getting.

Like Man U, Liverpool earned that luck all season. It’s part of the game. As is having to use simulation to draw attention to the ref that your player has been kicked from pillar to post all game. If refs don’t do their job and allow shoulders in the back and raking the achilles for example to go unpunished then of course players will take matters into their own hands. It’s sad it has to happen but all attacking players will do it to level the playing field.

The fact of the matter is that on the pitch, this has been an incredible title race and Manchester City in terms of the football they have been able to play, the players they have and the quality and resilience they have shown deserve nothing but respect.

As a football purist, I want to give them that credit just as I did Manchester United against my every fiber of my being. I was often called a “manc” for impressing on people just how great Man United were. I mean come on there’s reasons to dislike them but Giggs, Scholes, Keane and Beckham? That midfield speaks for itself. Balance, speed, skill, power, technical ability, assists, goals. They dominated English football and they deserve their props and I’ll always give it to them.

Manchester City are a phenomenal footballing side. 100 points last season and they are only out of the running for the quadruple by the slimmest of margins. It was cruel and were it any other side (apart from PSG) I may have felt sorry for them. As it is though, despite it not being the best thing for Liverpool’s title challenge, it may well prove that karma exists.

You see for all the plaudits I want to give City on the pitch, there is a much darker side to them. Forget Financial Fair Play, as poor sportsmanship as that is – and respect to Der Spiegel for having the balls to out it – we are talking of a much more sinister crime.

Man City fans love to sing of their owner Sheikh Mansour or to give him his full title, Crown Prince or Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan. They take great pleasure in reminding the world how said Sheikh went to Spain in his Lamborghini to bring back Pellegrini. The same manager incidentally they gave a pitiful send off to for his last game.

Next time they sing or you hear this song though, the most important word in it is “Mansoor”, in this case Ahmed Mansoor a human rights activist who attempted – and despite the price he has had to pay succeeded – in drawing yet more attention to the despicable human rights violations of the Emirates.

How did the United Arab Emirates respond? He had his passport taken and his car stolen, he was hacked and his bank account was emptied and on top of this he was beaten.

He was arrested and sentenced to 3 years imprisonment but was actually pardoned along with the rest of the “UAE five”.

That wasn’t to be the end of it though, this brave man continued to tell people of the truth of what happens in the Emirates and in May 2018 he was imprisoned without a fair trial for 10 years.

At this moment in time he continues to risk his well being and health to draw attention to the sadistic slave states that make up the UAE by currently undertaking a hunger strike.

This man is literally killing himself because it is the only way to show the world that he and his people have no freedom, no freedom of speech and no rights to an opinion.

The UAE including Abu Dhabi have been responsible for the death of slave labourers – yet had the nerve to thank them for helping build the country, they have murdered gay men and women in the streets under Sharia Law for the “crime” of their sexuality and they have imprisoned those who dare to try and inform us about it.

What happens when you try and tell people about this? They claim you only care because of football. They tell you that Liverpool have shops in Abu Dhabi (which we do) and that United are sponsored by a Saudi Arabian company (which they are) and it becomes a game of one-upmanship.

I would much rather Liverpool had nothing to do with Abu Dhabi and the rest of the Emirates, I don’t want their blood money. That said, on the other hand the opportunity to buy a Liverpool shirt is to not buy a City one and therefore not support the regime so maybe it is important the people have that choice? I don’t know to be honest. I want what is right but I can’t decide which is more harmful.

Being associated with such people is not ideal – like I say I can’t work out how wrong and would welcome comments and whether it would be right to take action or not – but conversely being owned by people who allow such actions is simply unforgivable.

What sickens me even more are Manchester City women. What women given the treatment of women in the Emirates would volunteer to play for City? I can’t fathom that. Do the women of the Emirates have the same opportunity afforded to the women that play for City? Of course not but in this case Abu Dhabi gets the public relations whitewash they want while still holding the women in their country firmly in their place.

I’ve been told that should the opportunity arise for Liverpool to have a rich Emirati owner I’d jump at it and to be honest as a kid when I was ignorant of such things I would have. I used to follow Godolphin horse racing and I thought at the time it was majestic. I now know the more sinister background to Dubai and as such wouldn’t want them anywhere near my club.

I was wrong, I was informed by others and I changed my viewpoint. If City fans would do the same then I could respect that.

It’s not all City fans by the way, some are as appalled as we are. I met them after the City game when they spanked us 5-0. “We’re not City anymore” one told me. How right he was.

Nothing about Manchester City is Manchester’s anymore, only in name. They are now an Emirati PR exercise, managed by a hypocrite who picks and chooses his outrage. I am for the independence of Catalunya but it doesn’t mean I turn a blind eye to the atrocities of the Emirates. Pep does. His words about how we both deserve the title ring hollow. We deserve a title, City don’t even deserve to be in the English League with such owners.

It’s hard to separate the two. I can already hear certain fans screaming “murderer” at the screen as I’m writing this. I mean I was 4 at the time but that’s a cross I and many others will have to bare.

What happened at Heysel was wrong, it was our fault and personally as well as many others I still grieve for those men, women and children that went to a football match and never came back. There was a due process followed, arrests were made and charges were brought. It doesn’t bring back those that never went home to their loved ones but it also doesn’t give license for “fans” to use those that died that day as a weapon for one-upmanship.

There are those that will believe that’s what I’m doing here and so be it, everyone is entitled to their opinion. Personally, while football is my life it is not and will never be more important than life, death and the freedoms we take for granted.

We desperately want this title, we deserve it but you don’t always get what you want or deserve in life. If you did Ahmed Mansoor would be a free man, gay men and women would be free to express their love in the Emirates and modern day slaves wouldn’t have died making a modern day Disneyland for middle east royalty.

Forget the petition about Messi being banned which is an embarrassment by the way, sign the petition to save an innocent man’s life and free him from the oppression that Abu Dhabi and the Emirates have forced upon him.

Ahmed Mansoor, you’ll never walk alone.


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