The new LIV Golf Super League, financed by a Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund, has just concluded its first weekend of activity on the course. This is an opportunity for me to share with you my thoughts, but especially my questions.
There has been a lot of talk about LIV in recent weeks for various reasons. The scholarships awarded to golfers have caught the attention of many, in addition to the fact that all the participants in the tournaments of this series will leave each of the eight tournaments with a scholarship of between $120,000 and $4 million, some golfers have signed very lucrative contracts . Those offered to stars Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, among others, turned heads. The latter will receive $200 million and $125 million, respectively, to be part of this new golf circuit.
Obviously, the almighty PGA is not happy that some golfers decide to participate in tournaments on a competitive circuit. This does everything in its power to prevent golfers from joining the defectors Mickleson, Johnson and company. Therefore, the cards of the PGA members who are part of the LIV are revoked. All of this must be resolved in court as several golfers are likely to challenge this decision by the PGA. So much for context.
What struck me about this saga is how much the players who decided to join LIV had to answer questions about Saudi Arabia’s poor performance on human rights. As it is a sovereign wealth fund of the Middle Eastern country that finances this Super League, many wonder how moral it is for golfers to accept money from a country where women are treated as second-class citizens, where the slightest challenge politician can land you. in prison… or worse yet, where the rights of sexual minorities are simply non-existent and so on.
Questions arise about the responsibility of golfers to associate themselves with such a country. Especially when you know that totalitarian countries often use sports to restore their image. These countries and the organizations that give them major sporting events, such as the World Cup or the Olympic Games, participate in a kind of sports wash. A kind of guarantee through sport. A way for these countries to say, “Look how fine, beautiful and kind we are, we welcome you to the planet for this or that international sporting event.” I think these golfers should be asked tough questions.
On the other hand, shouldn’t we also be asking such tough questions and holding such strict responsibilities to organizations that agree to hold their big events in these totalitarian countries? Shouldn’t we be wondering why the international bodies that govern sport decide to associate their names with countries where many athletes cannot live their lives freely? Shouldn’t our governments also be repeatedly and insistently asked why they do business and continue to sell weapons to countries that treat their citizens as subjects and not as free human beings? I wonder why it would be up to golfers to denounce these regimes when the institutions themselves don’t.
We ask golfers as individuals to take responsibility and promote human values before money. However, we must be consistent and do the same as a society by asking our governments and institutions to be more accountable, but also by consuming in a more responsible and moral way.