Saudi Sportswashing

In an effort to improve its image on the global stage, Saudi Arabia is financing a new professional golf tour. Some PGA pros are signing on to the LIV Tour as a result of the Saudi’s bonuses and much higher tournament purses. Tuesday, Brooks Koepka received $100m to switch sides.

Professional golfers have never been on the forefront of progressive politics, but this is next-level selling out to the highest bidder regardless of their historic repression of their citizens; their ties to 9/11; their hacking of American journalist Jamal Khashoggi to death; and worst of all; despite no one writing about it, their brutal war against Yemen.

It’s worth noting the (dis)United States sells the weapons that Saudi Arabia uses against Yemen. And it’s worth pressing pause for a second and imagining what you and I would do if a competing employer offered to increase our pay by five or ten times?

Families of 9/11 victims brought moral clarity to the situation yesterday with a letter of appreciation for the PGA tour players who (so far) are refusing to aid and abet Saudi Arabia in its sportswashing campaign.

They wrote:

“To those many of you who chose to remain loyal to the PGA Tour — and did not defect to the Saudi Arabia-bankrolled LIV Golf Series — we thank you and the sponsors who support you. Thank you for standing up for decency. Thank you for standing up for the 9/11 Families. Thank you for resisting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to cleanse its reputation by buying off professional athletes. […]

“To those of you who have chosen what is right over blood money from a corrupt, destructive sports entity and its Saudi backers, please continue to stand strong. You inspire hope and conviction that our long journey to accountability and justice is in reach. We deeply value your integrity and your willingness to stand up for principle.”

This global showdown begs a question. “How much is enough?” Most of the LIV signees are multimillionaires many times over. For some, the answer appears to be, there’s never enough.