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Golf news 2021: Greg Norman compares US to Saudi Arabia to defend ‘sportswashing’ criticism, LIV Golf Investments

Australian golf legend Greg Norman has fired back at backlash after he recently became chief executive of a PGA Tour competitor.

Golf legend Greg Norman said he is not “sportswashing” Saudi Arabia in his new role fronting a PGA Tour competitor backed financially by the Middle Eastern country.

Norman recently became chief executive of LIV Golf Investments, a venture backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which hopes to disrupt the PGA Tour by offering marquee players big money for a limited schedule, the New York Post reports.

The partnership came with a commitment of more than $AUD260 million, a statement released by the tour said.

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“No, I have not been used for sportswashing because I’ve been to Saudi Arabia, and I’ve seen the changes that have taken place,” Norman told the Financial Times.

“Every country has done horrendous things in the past … just look at America with racism, for example, it’s just so embedded here, it’s just ugly.”

Earlier this month, The Post published an article by Gavin Newsham accusing Norman of “sportswashing,” pointing to Saudi Arabia’s gender gap — ranking 147th out of 153 nations in the world according to the World Economic Forum — and the state-ordered murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

According to Yahoo Sports, the upstart golf league made enormous offers this past May to many of the PGA Tour’s most famous players, including Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Rickie Fowler and Justin Rose. Some of the offers reached the “neighbourhood” of AUD$70.3 million.

Norman does not believe elite golfers are fairly compensated. Jon Rahm lead the PGA Tour with $10.8 million in winnings in 2021.

“You look at that value that’s been generated through other sports, for other players and other franchises. Golf has never recognised that or had the ability to capture that market,” he told the Financial Times.

This article originally appeared on the New York Post and was reproduced with permission



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