By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
Critics of a new golf league backed by the oppressive Saudi government and backed by former President Donald Trump have denounced the actions of players who blocked the PGA TOUR, taking millions of dollars to participate.
Observers have said recent decisions by prominent and wealthy stars like Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia and Brooks Koepka to play on LIV Tour are as selfish as the sports world has ever seen.
“As far as … players who chose to go to LIV and play there, I disagree,” Tiger Woods said this month. “I think what they’ve done is they’ve turned their backs on what got them into this position.”
Harold Varner III credited, among other things, retired NBA superstar Michael Jordan for his decision not to join LIV.
“I’m obviously not going,” Varner said matter-of-factly of leaving the PGA Tour for LIV Golf. “I spoke with (PGA Tour commissioner) Jay (Monahan), I spoke with a lot of people I look up to, and it just wasn’t worth it to me for what it was worth. so is pretty straightforward,” he said, according to Sports Illustrated.
According to Golf.com, LIV stood as a beacon for golf improvement.
“For one man, every member of the new league has somehow referenced ‘positive change’ as justification for plunging into the morally murky waters surrounding its financiers,” James Colgan wrote for Golf.com.
This, Woods said, is LIV’s biggest failure.
Golf is not strongest for competition, and neither are its players. No one is, according to legend.
“I just don’t see how this move is positive long-term for a lot of these players,” Woods said.
Additionally, the upcoming LIV Golf Series, hosted by Trump at his National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey, threatens to damage the PGA TOUR’s Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit.
According to CNBC, Trump’s decision to align himself with LIV highlights his close ties to Saudi Arabia; he made his first foreign visit there as president, and his wealth fund pumped $2 billion into his son-in-law’s business last year.
“The Trump-LIV partnership also represents a clawback measure. The PGA Tour and PGA of America pulled the tournaments from Trump’s Doral and Bedminster clubs, respectively, following bigoted remarks he made during the campaign trail in 2016 (the PGA Tour said the move was motivated financially after losing sponsorship of the event) and then his role in inciting the mob that ransacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021,” CNBC reported.
Trump sued PGA of America and the case was settled in December.
“Trump loves it. He loves revenge. He loves attention. He loves money,” said Gary Williams, golf analyst for marketing firm Signature Golf and former host of a Golf Channel show owned by NBC who performed with Trump at Doral in 2014.
“Trump had a seat at the table in the professional golf world and lost it, and now he’s found this kind of rogue organization in the golf world that is an existential threat to the establishment,” Williams said. at NBC. “And he can’t get enough.”
Critics also said what is being ignored is that across the world of golf, the PGA TOUR is generating positive impact at unprecedented levels to support and improve local communities.
Non-profit tournaments under the PGA TOUR umbrella donate their net proceeds to support local organizations, totaling more than $3.37 billion in donations.
When players, fans and businesses support a PGA TOUR event, they contribute to countless philanthropic organizations in and around the communities where the events take place.
Ahead of the July 28-31 Rocket Mortgage Classic, officials announced the return of THE JOHN SHIPPEN National Golf Invitational presented by Rocket Mortgage – an event designed to provide opportunities for amateur and professional black golfers, men and women.
Additionally, THE JOHN SHIPPEN Sports Business Summit will return for its second year to address the lack of representation in business and leadership roles in golf and professional sports for people of color.
“So not only do these defections to LIV pose a threat to the PGA TOUR, but they also jeopardize these incredible programs for Blacks and Browns, and it does not help the advancement of the TOUR and golf in general in when it comes to inclusion,” said Peter Bassett, a golf professional in Washington, D.C.
“I would say these athletes are not only spoiled, but showing their true colors as the most selfish human beings on earth,” Bassett said.
Bassett asked what the others had wondered. “Did those guys think they were getting the blood money?” he stated.
Survivors and families of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks protested the events at LIV Golf because of the Saudi government’s involvement in this unforgettable assault and the killings of Americans on American soil.
“Some of your fellow PGA Tour members have traded their dreams of success for easy money – in fact, blood money – whether they need those funds or not,” wrote members of the family of 9/11 victims in an impassioned letter to the PGA TOUR.
“They include some of the wealthiest in the business, who justify their role in Saudi Arabia’s effort to wash the sport down simply and stunningly by looking away. They do so casually when asked the tough questions or when asked. are faced with the uncomfortable truth: that they are helping one of the worst regimes in the world cover up their crimes.
The families have made it clear that they hold Saudi Arabia responsible for its role in the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people at the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington and Pennsylvania.
The letter cited FBI reports on Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the attacks.
Families applauded golfers who refused the eye-popping checks some agreed to play for LIV.
“To those of you who have chosen what is right over the blood money of a corrupt and destructive sports entity and its Saudi backers, please continue to stand strong,” the families wrote.
“You inspire hope and belief that our long journey toward accountability and justice is within reach. We deeply appreciate your integrity and your willingness to uphold principle. Thank you for standing up for decency.
Amnesty International has listed the top 10 ways Saudi Arabia continues to violate human rights.
The organization noted that the government still uses torture for many offences. Amnesty officials have often said that following unfair trials, the government resorts to corporal punishment such as flogging, amputations and cross amputations where the opposite hand and foot are removed for those convicted of robbery. .
Amnesty said Saudi Arabia is among the world’s top executioners, with dozens executed each year, many in public beheadings. Saudi Arabia also opposes freedom of expression, with activists imprisoned simply for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.
The country also does not allow protests and women face widespread discrimination.
“Women and girls continue to be discriminated against in law and in practice, with laws that ensure they are subordinate citizens to men – especially in relation to family matters such as marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance,” Amnesty officials wrote.
“Women who have supported a campaign against the ban on female drivers are at risk of arrest and other acts of harassment and intimidation,” they said.
Moreover, torture in police custody remains common and the authorities do not need reasons to detain individuals. In addition, according to Amnesty officials, members of the Kingdom’s Shia minority, most of whom live in the oil-rich eastern province, continue to face entrenched discrimination that limits their access to government services and to work.
According to the Interior Ministry, a crackdown on illegal foreign migrant workers in November 2013 resulted in the deportation of more than 370,000 people. Some 18,000 people remained in detention as of March 2020, and thousands have been summarily returned to Somalia, Yemen or other states where they may face human rights violations upon return.
Saudi authorities continued to deny access to independent human rights organizations, officials said.
“Maybe Phil Mickelson will stand on a podium and hold the Saudis to account for what happened to Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post journalist who was brutally murdered by thugs on orders, the Central Intelligence Agency said, of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman”. Journalist Kurt Streeter wrote for The New York Times.
“Yes, the same Prince Mohammed is now using the LIV Golf series to distract from the truth about his homeland,” Streeter continued.
“Don’t hold your breath. None of the golfers who entered the LIV circuit in exchange for huge sums will speak. They are too spineless and too compromised, working as they do for a tour funded by a government that flouts human rights.