Golf’s Saudi partnership raises political, commercial, and sports concerns 2023

The PGA Tour highlighted its finest players with “These guys are good.” “These guys are even richer” may work today.

The PGA Tour established a collaboration with Saudi Arabia’s state investment fund, which financed LIV Golf, a breakaway circuit that splintered the sport and sparked player feuds. Golf aficionados felt it was fake.

The new pro-golf reality will merge the two rival tours, add the DP World Tour (formerly the European tour), and allow the greatest players to play more often, improving the presentation for fans.

That pleases US and foreign sports fans. On Sundays, they watch their Gulf-owned Premier League team or their favorite golfer. An oasis from tribal politics—who can complain?

The offer is great if PGA Tour players accept. Golfers will make more money, circuits will be reinvigorated, and Saudi Arabia and its ruthless leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), will be linked to one of the world’s most renowned year-round sports franchises. The settlement ended LIV Golf-PGA Tour issues.

Monahan is the world’s best golfer outside the four majors because to Saudi money.

9/11 families United accused Monahan of using the tragedy to negotiate a golf reunion. “He co-opted the 9/11 community last year in the PGA’s unequivocal agreement that the Saudi LIV project was nothing more than sports washing of Saudi Arabia’s reputation,” the group said.

“But now the PGA and Monahan appear to have become just more paid Saudi shills, taking billions of dollars to cleanse the Saudi reputation so Americans and the world will forget how the Kingdom spent their billions before 9/11 to fund terrorism, spread their vitriolic hatred of Americans, and finance al Qaeda and the murder of our loved ones.”

Monahan was questioned about his comeback during a “heated” Tuesday meeting with PGA Tour players.

He knew others would call him hypocritical. “Anything I said was based on the information I had and on someone trying to compete for the PGA TOUR and our players.”

Major champions who joined the rival circuit last year like Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, and Cam Smith may now fear if their PGA tour counterparts would suffer the same human rights issues.

Former President Donald Trump, a terrific golfer, liked the arrangement and sought credit. The 2024 GOP contender joined LIV after the PGA Tour and other golf organizations shunned him for his controversial politics. Trump has sponsored multiple LIV tournaments at his courses, which accords with his unwillingness to terminate connections with the Saudis after Khashoggi’s killing in 2018, claiming they were excellent clients.

“A big, beautiful, glamorous golf deal. Good job! Trump capitalized Truth Social.

According to its proponents, LIV golfers put personal gains before morals while cooperating with the Saudis. Indeed, President Joe Biden had urged on the 2020 campaign trail for the kingdom to be considered a “pariah” because of Khashoggi’s murder, only to go to the nation as president to fist-bump MBS when he needed more oil output to cut American gas costs.

On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited the Crown Prince in Riyadh following the LIV/PGA alliance.

Moral issues

Politics and sports shouldn’t mix. The Olympics and World Cup are worldwide political events. Modern sports are funded by huge TV rights contracts that pay elite soccer players, Formula One drivers, NBA players, and others.

Golf’s marketing makes Tuesday’s LIV/PGA Tour deal ethically murky. Players call penalties on themselves and analysts talk about elite players’ gentlemanly behavior, patriotism, and family values, making the sport’s new financial lifeblood evident.

Sports washing, in which an authoritarian state recruits the world’s greatest athletes to boost its image despite criticism of its political system and human rights record, may be best shown by the PGA Tour and Saudi collaboration.

China’s 2008 and 2022 Summer and Winter Olympics were condemned for repressing political activism. Another example of money rebranding was Qatar’s World Cup last year. LGBTQ and stadium worker concerns damaged FIFA’s inclusivity promises during the tournament.

Saudis, Qataris, and others are using oil money to construct tourism, entertainment, and sporting legacies to sustain them when fossil energy runs out.

Western European cities are losing influence and cash to emerging economies in the Middle East, India, and China. Soccer, like golf, makes money. Foreign oil magnates have owned UK working class football teams for decades. UAE-led firm bought Manchester City.

Newcastle United’s Saudi Arabian ownership makes fans question their clubs’ integrity. The IPL’s huge payouts and shortened game have revolutionized cricket worldwide.

Cristiano Ronaldo is retiring in Saudi Arabia for a fortune. Al-Ittihad signed Karim Benzema on Tuesday, completing a sporting double.

Sports enigmas

The PGA Tour/LIV Golf partnership has several sporting questions. The Saudi Public Investment Fund, PGA Tour, and DP World Tour’s golf-related commercial activities and rights (including LIV Golf) form a new, for-profit organization. CNN stated PGA Tour spokesman denied merger.

After two years of strife and distraction, Monahan termed it a “transformational partnership” that would “benefit golf’s players, commercial and charitable partners and fans”.

Yasir Al-Rumayyan, governor of the Saudi Public Investment Fund, told CNBC that he informed LIV legend and Hall of Famer Greg Norman about the transaction seconds before transmission.

LIV’s high signing bonuses and huge prizes at fewer tournaments than the PGA Tour attracted top players, prompting the main US circuit to develop its own “designated events” with additional prize money. They reconciled.

LIV stars were banned from PGA tour events including The Players Championship, but what they must do to rejoin remains uncertain.

PGA Tour members’ reactions?

“I love morning news on Twitter,” tweeted former British Open winner Collin Morikawa.

The unexpected decision did not suggest what would happen to LIV tour events, which failed to draw TV viewers, following this season. Monahan’s remarks implied the new organization will include LIV’s team events to golf’s solo tournaments.

Mickelson grinned most Tuesday. The three-time Masters champion was one of the strongest LIV supporters, believing it would alter professional golf and pay players more.

Mickelson called the Saudis “scary mtherf*kers to get involved with” in an off-the-record conversation with golf journalist Alan Shipnuck. Shipnuck denied offering Mickelson a deal.

Mickelson tweeted “Awesome day today” Tuesday.

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About the Author: Sanjh Vishwakarma

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