Why are Saudi Arabia and South Korea playing at Newcastle’s St James’ Park?

Saudi Arabia in action at St James’ Park last week

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Saudi Arabia are playing another friendly at St James’ Park today as they take on South Korea.

The Saudis are looking to tune up ahead of the AFC Asian Cup, which takes place in Qatar in January.

The team, managed by former Italy head coach Roberto Mancini, lost to Costa Rica at the home of Newcastle United last week and will be looking to improve on that performance this time around against Korea, who are coached by former Germany striker Jurgen Klinsmann.

Why are Saudi Arabia playing at St James’ Park?

Newcastle are 80 per cent owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, and as such the club has seen an increasing Saudi influence.


One of the team’s away kits mimics the Saudi colours of green and white, while the stadium is now playing host to international games. Last month Newcastle announced the pair of friendly fixtures on their club website.

The developments are not without controversy. The lobby group ‘NUFC fans against Sportswashing’ staged a small protest before the Costa Rica match calling for the release of political prisoners in Saudi. They were asked by the club to remain off stadium grounds while protesting, according to the Guardian.

When is the match?

Saudi Arabia vs South Korea kicks off at 5.30pm BST today, Tuesday 12 September.

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