'PGA is gonna get what it deserves': Condemnation of Saudi LIV merger unites some House members
WASHINGTON — Members of both sides of the political aisle spoke out against the PGA merger with the Saudi Arabia-owned LIV Golf Tuesday. Just last year, the PGA said that the LIV tournaments were unacceptable and that they would refuse to allow "sports washing" of the Saudi royal family, which has been accused of aiding 9/11 hijackers and human rights violations over the years.
Then, on Tuesday, both groups announced they were merging into a "new, collectively owned, for-profit entity."
Speaking to Raw Story, some lawmakers expressed concern.
Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI), an avid golfer, confessed he was "irritated" at hearing the news.
"The PGA Tour has its own issues, obviously, but they can't just brush aside the source of the [LIV] tour's money and the business model is a problem, I think, too," Kildee explained. "Like you're just paid to show up. The advantage of PGA is that every week you show up, and if you do well, you do well, and if you don't, then you might be looking at some other tour at some point."
He agreed that a lot of frustration has to do with the assassination and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. A February 2021 FBI report confirmed that "Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia approved the assassination," The New York Times reported at the time.
"But it's also just the notion that after the Khashoggi killing, the idea, whether it was clearly intentional, it felt intentional, to sort of try and buy a reputation by creating this LIV tour and it's validated by these great tour pros," Kildee continued. "You put enough money on the table you can get some real talent. You know?"
When asked if he thought there should be a hearing into the merger, he said that he worries about the potential anti-trust implications and he does have concerns, but the idea of targeting a private business is something he's also worried about.
Republican Rep. Chip Roy (TX) gave Raw Story a frank comment on the merger: "It's s--t!" he shouted as he raced to the House floor.
Rep. Colin Allred (D-TX), who is taking on Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in 2024, had a unique perspective as a former professional football player.
His face sinking when informed of the news, Allred told Raw Story that it's an example that "sports-washing" of golf, and previously soccer, is increasing. In 2022, the World Cup was hosted by Qatar; in 2018, Russia hosted the soccer tournament. Both nations were accused of attempting to use the event as a means to appear respectable on the world stage despite human rights issues, corruption, labor abuses and hostility to LGBTQ people, The Nation explained.
"It's not just that it's Saudi-backed that it's a problem," Allred explained. "But it's because it's about accountability. And professional sports already has enough negative impressions without adding in politics."
He went on to cite Khashoggi but also mentioned "women's rights, LGBT rights" and said, "There are a lot of concerns, which, in the geopolitical context, you could say still strategically very important to the United States, when we're talking about who you want to watch on Sunday when you're watching The Masters, you don't want to be thinking about that."
Donald Trump has expressed his excitement over it.
"I think they're going to get what they deserve, no question in my mind," said Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ). "And I think that Saudi Arabia has thought, in dealing with the supply of oil, that they had suited themselves finely in the world's position. I think that not only have they made a huge mistake, but it makes us move toward independence, and a lot of other countries."
He went on to say that the Saudis were "striking out, as far as I'm concerned."
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