They said it was a matter of principle, but it was always about money.
Despite pledges by PGA Tour leaders not to allow their game to be tainted, men’s professional golf is now a prisoner of Saudi Arabia, which is doing all it can to divert public attention from public abuse. It’s becoming It conveys the splendor, brilliance, and global appeal of sports.
Ultimately, human rights prove to be boring and a hindrance. “Sports wash”, as it is known, is powerful and effective.
That’s the message between the once venerable PGA Tour and the tournament that until Tuesday was in rebellion – a merger with LIV Golf – born just last year and an oil-rich kingdom owned by the government of Saudi Arabia. It has funded billions of dollars from investment funds. It makes the world-famous image shine in gold.
Profit is paramount. More than anything. That’s the message.
It reigns over the morals, values and traditions that the PGA Tour, now riddled with rank hypocrisy, has been trumpeting in the midst of a seemingly fierce but decidedly bogus rivalry between golf’s biggest names.
“It’s my job to protect, defend and celebrate the PGA Tour,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said nearly a year ago after announcing that golfers playing at the LIV would be banned from the circuit. rice field. The tour failed to connect at all with the country known for its rights violations and presumed behind the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and other golf stars who joined the LIV were branded as exiles and outcasts. Human rights have formed a strong moral foundation for the PGA Tour’s stand.
Asked about protests against LIV tours by families of victims enraged by Saudi Arabia’s alleged role in the 9/11 attacks, Monahan sympathizes in a pantomime: “My heart goes out to them.” showed that. He asked a golfer who left to enter a tournament, or considered it a rhetorical question, “Have you ever had to apologize for being a member of the PGA Tour?” ?” I asked.
Those comments now look like disinformation. This noble battle is over (unless the secret PGA Tour Policy Committee refuses to ratify the agreement). The merger, which also includes the DP World Tour (formerly the European Tour), will make known men’s professional golf a piece of history.
The head of a Saudi investment fund, Yasir Al Rumayyan, is set to become chairman of the board of a global umbrella firm for an as-yet-not-yet-named start-up.
This merger is certainly about sport, but it’s also about world power and values.
Citizens in Saudi Arabia do not enjoy the right to assemble freely. The legal system is not independent. Due process is a farce. Speaking out against the government carries the risk of being imprisoned, tortured or killed.
When Mr. Khashoggi, a Washington Post reporter, dared to speak out against an oppressive state, he was lured to the Saudi Consulate General in Istanbul. A UN report describes how he was drugged and mutilated.
who did it The CIA says the thugs are operating on the orders of Muhammad bin Salman. Prince Salman oversees everything in the kingdom, including an investment fund that has tremendous influence over the world of golf.
America has its own moral flaws that have persisted since its founding. But we will confront them in public. we protest we march The media speaks up. vote
Many golfers and fans will block out the troubling aspects of this story and look purely at the bright side. The new tour hopes to make golf more global, more accessible, less cumbersome and more exciting. The same golfers who were ousted from the regular PGA Tour after being shunned by many of the stars (like rebel mastermind Mickelson and recent major PGA Championship winner Koepka) are back on the Tour. likely to return.
And really, none of that is bad for fans, or bad for sponsors.
But looking only on the bright side is condoning hypocrisy.
This is the most disruptive move the sports world has probably seen in a long time. In the American context, in the 1960s he partnered the NFL and the American Football League. The NBA and the American Basketball Association joined in his 1970s. At the time, however, these movements had no impact on world sports, nor did they protect oppressive countries.
Because of this, these mergers look terrifying.
Get used to a world where the Middle East, with its many authoritarian governments, is the dominant force in sports.
Qatar’s hosting of the men’s World Cup in 2022 was one example of the unseemly truths wiped clean by the thrilling tournaments seen around the world. The merger of Golf gives the production company for the event to someone else.
The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have hosted important competitions such as golf, tennis, auto racing and mixed martial arts for some time. The NBA hosts exhibition games in the region.
The end is not yet in sight for Saudi Arabia. They are bidding for football’s 2030 World Cup and are using their wealth to attract expensive talent to their domestic leagues. Cristiano Ronaldo is currently playing for Al Nasr. On Tuesday, French striker Karim Benzema joined fellow Saudi Arabian side Al Ittihad on a nine-figure deal. Lionel Messi, who already has a tourism promotion deal for the kingdom, could be next.
“We are interested in all sports,” Al Rumayyan said in a television interview on Tuesday. Not just golf. It’s not just soccer and basketball. But “in many other sports, too,” he said.
It’s not hard to imagine Saudi Arabia getting even more involved in the NBA, providing billions of dollars to buy NFL teams and funding sponsorships of college athletes. Also, it’s not hard to imagine the LPGA Tour kicking off in earnest.
The PGA Tour has presented itself as a man who penalizes himself for accidentally moving the ball a quarter inch. In the end it turns out it was a man hitting a double bogey to mark as par.