9/11 families will protest Saudi LIV Golf Tour on Masters week
A group of family members of victims of the 9/11 terror attacks will hold an event in Atlanta next week to protest the Masters’ decision to allow LIV Tour golfers to play in the tournament.
The LIV Golf Tour is an upstart rival league to the PGA owned by the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund. Saudi Arabia has been accused of assisting the terrorists who committed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but it has repeatedly denied those accusations.
“Any allegation that Saudi Arabia is complicit in the September 11 attacks is categorically false,” the Saudi Embassy said in 2021.
The chair of 9/11 Families United, Terry Strada, formally requested a meeting with the Augusta National Golf Club chairman before the Masters tournament starts at the legendary Georgia course next week.
“Countless Americans have said they will ‘never forget’ what happened on 9/11, but those words without actions are meaningless,” Strada said. “You have the power to stand with the 9/11 community and show that you have not forgotten about your fellow Americans.
“The decision is yours. I hope you will consider my request to speak with you ahead of the tournament so that I may educate you about the potential harm caused by normalizing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and giving recognition to its servants — no matter how financially beneficial it may be for your club.”
The same group protested an LIV Tour event at former President Trump’s Bedminster, N.J., golf course last year. Trump has been a vocal supporter of LIV.
In December, Augusta National announced LIV golfers such as Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson would be allowed to participate in the upcoming Masters. LIV golfers have been banned from PGA tournaments, citing contract disputes.
Critics say the LIV Tour is one of the most high-profile examples of “sportswashing,” or using major sporting events to distract from a nation’s poor human rights record or other controversy in order to improve its image.
Saudi Arabia has also faced years of negative headlines over the slaying of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi at its Turkish consulate in 2018.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is now bankrolling LIV Golf and other high-priced sports ventures in a transparent attempt to distract the world from its record on human rights and their government agents’ role in assisting the hijackers that carried out the 9/11 attacks,” Strada said. “The league’s own consultants confirmed that a key goal for the league is to improve the Saudi’s standing in the world.”
Some of golf’s biggest stars were paid hundreds of millions of dollars to leave the PGA for the LIV tour, amounts that are nearly unheard of for golf competition.
Mickelson, the three-time Masters winner and two-time PGA champion, was reportedly paid $200 million to ditch PGA for LIV last year.
He and others sued the PGA after they were banned from participating in its events.
PGA claims that by playing in LIV tournaments, they violated their contracts with the league.
“Any Saudi money is tainted with 9/11 blood,” Strada said.
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