Norman 'has not' spoken to Saudi Arabia's leadership over human rights

Greg Norman reveals he ‘has NOT’ spoken to Saudi Arabia’s leadership over human rights, with the LIV Golf chief insisting breakaway series is a ‘force for good’ amid accusations of sportswashing

  • The Saudi-backed series has faced repeated accusations of sportswashing 
  • Greg Norman insists his role is entirely focused on golf and developing the series
  • LIV Golf will stage its inaugural Australian event in Adelaide this week 

LIV Golf boss Greg Norman has said he has never discussed human rights record with Saudi Arabian officials despite the ongoing controversy over the funding of the breakaway circuit.

LIV Golf is heavily backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which has committed at least $2 billion to the circuit. 

The fund is controlled by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, with Yasir Al-Rumayyan serving as the the current governor of the PIF.

Critics have accused the series of ‘sportswashing’, with Saudi Arabia keen to improve its image amid criticism over its human rights record and the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

Norman was asked if he had ever met Mohammed bin Salman or members of the Saudi leadership to discuss human rights ahead of LIV Golf’s first Australian tournament in Adelaide.

LIV Golf boss Greg Norman insisted his job is to focus on golf when asked about human rights

LIV Golf is backed by the Saudi public investment fund controlled by Mohammad Bin Salman

Yasir Al-Rumayyan (R) is the current governor of the PIF and Greg Norman (L) is LIV Golf’s CEO

The LIV Golf chief said he had not discussed the issue and insisted his job was to focus on golf.

‘I’m the chairman and CEO of LIV Golf Investments, and that’s where I focus. I focus on golf,’ Norman said, as reported by AFP.

‘Golf is a force for good. I’ve been involved with golf, like I said, as a player, as well as golf course design. I’ve built some golf courses in third-world countries. 

‘I’ve built golf courses in Communist countries.

‘It goes everywhere with the right platform because it delivers the right message, from education to hospitality to employment to tourism. Everywhere you go, golf is a force for good.’

Norman and LIV Golf’s star players have repeatedly faced questions over sportswashing since the series was established.

LIV Golf was forced to apologise last year after Norman had labelled the killing of Khashoggi as a ‘mistake’.

LIV Golf’s inaugural Australian event will begin on Friday at the Grange Golf Course in Adelaide.

LIV Golf has faced criticism over sportswashing since the breakaway series was established

An inaugural Australian leg of the LIV Golf series is set to begin in Adelaide on Friday

Cameron Smith will be among the star names competing at the Grange Golf Course

The course was the scene of Norman’s first professional win in the 1976 West Lakes Classic and the LIV Golf Commissioner and CEO has recently redesigned it.

Forty-eight players compete in LIV events, which take part over 54 holes across three days, instead of the standard 72 holes across four days as it’s commonplace on the PGA and European Tours.

The series has lured some of the game’s best-known players away from the PGA Tour.

Australia’s Cameron Smith will headline the Adelaide event, which also features Masters runners-up Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson.

The PGA Tour has suspended players who joined the rival tour without getting a waiver, though that doesn’t apply to the four major championships. 

The European Tour won an arbitration battle with the LIV rebels earlier this month, which allows them to impose suspensions and £100,000 fines on golfers from the European circuit who played in LIV events without their permission.

Norman claimed prior to the competition in Adelaide that he has been approached over the potential establishment of a LIV Women’s series.

The Australian has also warned the PGA Tour that legal disputes won’t halt growth of the breakaway league.

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