Having previously been known simply as ‘that footy pundit off the telly’, over the past year Gary Neville seems to have been trying to manoeuvre his way into politics. The former Man Utd captain signed up as a Labour member, conducted a cringeworthy Q&A with Keir Starmer at last year’s party conference, and has consistently called for the Tories to be removed from office. But is Neville a true comrade of the workers’ movement? Mr S thought he’d do some digging into the right back’s past…
Having been a consistent critic of the Qatari government, their human rights’ abuses and stance on gay rights, Neville then, er, became a fully paid-up member of Qatari state media by agreeing to be a pundit at the 2022 World Cup for beIN Sports.
BeIN is owned by the Qataris, but Neville was front and centre of their coverage throughout the tournament, for which he was paid substantial amounts of money. He had said he ‘detests’ Qatar’s abuses, and even fronted a documentary to that end. But Neville defended his decision to appear o the channel by saying he hoped to ‘highlight the issues and challenges’ from within the country. Quelle surprise…
Despite his Qatari links, Neville has some strong views on Saudi Arabia and its habit of buying up millionaire footballers in their thirties. The one-time England right back has called on the Premier League to stop the transfer of players to the oil rich nation until ‘it is certain the integrity of its competition is not being put at risk’.
That was after Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund declared in June that it was taking over four leading clubs in the country, including Al-Nassr, who signed Cristiano Ronaldo in December. He told the BBC that: ‘The Premier League should put an instant embargo on transfers to Saudi Arabia to ensure the integrity of the game isn’t being damaged.