Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancée wants LIV golfers "banned" from some PGA Tour tourneys
Slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Cengiz said golfers who take part in the Saudi-backed LIV Golf events should be barred from playing in the PGA Tour’s major tournaments, USA Today reports.
Driving the news: Some of the world’s best-known golfers have joined the new venture bankrolled by the Saudi government and its Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who the U.S. intelligence community has said ordered the Washington Post contributing columnist’s murder in 2018. Saudi officials have denied the allegation.
What she’s saying: “If they still carry on and play as if everything is normal, then they should be banned from playing in the world’s major tournaments,’’ Cengiz said, per USA TODAY. “This will show that there are consequences for supporting murderers, and it will show the murderers that they are not escaping justice.’’
State of play: LIV is controversial, in part because of conflicts with the PGA Tour, as well as where its financial backing is coming from: the Saudi Arabian government.
- The new venture has lured some of golf’s biggest names, including Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, with substantial sign-on fees and the promise of huge purses at its events.
- LIV kicked off its inaugural season on June 9. The PGA Tour suspended the 17 players who are taking part in the first event, and any players who participate in future events will face the same punishment.
- Critics have said the country is using golf to boost its global image, an attempt at "sportswashing," Axios Sports’ Kendall Baker and Jeff Tracy write.
A group of families and survivors of the 2001 terrorist attacks, 911familiesunited.org, also condemned the American golfers participating in the tournament, saying in a letter on Friday that "we are angered that you are so willing to help the Saudis cover up this history in their request for 'respectability.'
- "You are all Americans, keenly aware of the death and destruction of September 11. Whether it was the appeal of millions of dollars of hard cash, or just the opportunity to prosecute your professional grievances with the PGA, you have sold us out. This is a betrayal not only of us, but of all your countrymen," the group continued in the letter.
- "Please rethink your membership in this Saudi enterprise. Perhaps you were unaware of the Saudi role in September 11. Or if you were, perhaps you thought nobody would care, nearly 21 years later. Either way, you were mistaken."
What’s next: The U.S. Open begins next Thursday, and all players who qualified for the tournament are eligible to participate, the United States Golf Association has said, per USA Today.
- Golf’s three other majors have not yet indicated whether players who participate in LIV events will be allowed to compete.
Go deeper: Everything you need to know about the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series