The LIV golf tour, a rival league paid for by the Saudi Arabian monarchy, has angered the Professional Golfers’ Association and led to the suspension of 17 golfers from the tour, including stars like Phil Mickleson and Dustin Johnson. Both men are being paid over $100 million to participate in the LIV tour.
Renowned sportscaster Bob Costas commented on the subject saying, “This is Saudi blood money,” asking of Phil Mickleson and Dustin Johnson, “what’s the price for your soul? What’s the price for integrity?”
There’s good reason to ask these questions. Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy with connections to international terrorism, has an abysmal human rights record, both at home and abroad. “The Saudi government is responsible for the murder of a Washington Post reporter and US resident Jamal Khashoggi,” said Brian Garvey, Assistant Director of Massachusetts Peace Action, a local group that opposes the US alliance with Saudi Arabia. “Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had Khashoggi killed to shut him up, to stop him from criticizing their genocidal war in Yemen, a war that has killed almost 400,000 people, mostly civilian women and children.”
The activists will stand at the entrance to the Country Club in Brookline, MA holding banners that say “Saudi Money is Blood Money,” “Saudi Arabia Kills Journalists and Kids in Yemen,” and “Thank you PGA Golfers who said No. No Amount of Money is worth your soul.”
Normally the sole focus of the entire golf world would be this weekend’s Open. Instead the players and the fans are also talking about the morality of dealing with a human rights abuser like Saudi Arabia. This conversation is happening at a key moment, with President Joe Biden having just announced a presidential trip to Saudi Arabia (a major reversal of his Administration’s policy), a fragile ceasefire in place in Yemen, and a War Powers Resolution introduced in Congress to end US participation in that illegal war.
“What’s going on in professional golf right now is a symbol for something much larger,” said Garvey. “It’s not just professional golfers who are tossing ethics aside for a big payday. It’s our whole country. The United States of America should not be in bed with murderers because they have oil, or because they buy billions of dollars in American weapons. We can’t let the fact that Saudi Arabia can buy some top golfers hide their war crimes. We can’t let the fact that they’ve got a lot of oil and money blind us. This country should not be an ally of the United States. “