On Tuesday, it was reported that the PGA Tour and the Saudi-backed LIV Golf had reached a deal to merge, prompting outrage from some human rights groups as well as the group representing the survivors and families of those killed on 9/11, all of whom are accusing the PGA of helping Saudi Arabia whitewash its human rights abuses, CBS News reported.
LIV Golf is backed by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), a $620 billion sovereign wealth fund in Saudi Arabia.
Under the merger, the LIV and PGA will form a new for-profit golf entity, in which the PIF will provide an undisclosed capital investment
In a statement on Wednesday, Human Rights Watch’s Saudi Arabia researcher Joe Shea described the merger as a “sportswashing” of Saudi Arabia’s “dismal human rights record” which will “largely control professional golf.” Shea added that it is clear that human rights “took a back seat” to the financial benefits of the merger.
9/11 Families United, a group made up of family members and survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, said in a statement that it was “shocked and deeply offended” by the merger. The group noted that “operatives” from Saudi Arabia “played a role” in the 9/11 attacks and now the country will be “bankrolling all of professional golf.”
Terry Strada, the chair of the group said that PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan has betrayed the “entire 9/11 community” and described the PGA’s “concern for our loved ones” as “window-dressing in their quest for money.”
In an interview on the Golf Channel, Jay Monahan expressed regret for not reaching out to 9/11 families before the deal was announced. Monahan said he would own “any hypocrisy” in his decision to allow “confidentiality to prevail” rather than first “communicate to very important constituents,” like the families of 9/11 victims.