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G-Mac digging deeper hole as he attempts to legitimise participation in LIV series

Garrett Hargan


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Graeme McDowell.

Graeme McDowell.

Garrett Hargan

Garrett Hargan

/

Graeme McDowell.

Graeme McDowell should be looking to recalibrate his moral compass rather than doubling down on his decision to participate in the Saudi-sponsored LIV Golf series.

There is no doubt LIV competitors will be rewarded handsomely for their services but at what cost?

Death threats and intimidation of McDowell and other public-facing personalities must always be condemned in the strongest terms.

Social media companies have to play their part in ending the cycle of toxic abuse from often faceless accounts.

But McDowell must be aware that by playing in the LIV series he is allowing a murderous regime to hide behind a façade of respectability.

He acknowledged as much when saying golf is a “force for good in the world” and “if Saudi Arabia want to use the game of golf as a way for them to get to where they want to be and they have the resources to accelerate that experience I think we are proud to help them on that journey.”

LIV Golf: The Saudi Government and Sportswashing

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The Co Antrim man doesn’t appear to have spent much time grappling with his decision. While saying he expected a backlash, he still hasn’t given it enough thought to answer a question about widespread human rights abuse in Saudi Arabia, believing that is the realm of politicians rather than athletes.

His only regret, it appears, is digging a hole for himself by answering questions in the first instance.

What McDowell needs to process is that Saudi Arabia is not attempting to atone for past oppression. Amnesty International has been forthright in denouncing ongoing human rights abuses.

Courts in ‘the kingdom’ have resorted extensively to the death penalty and people are executed for a wide range of crimes. Women and migrant workers are but two groups facing discrimination.

The Saudi regime sanctioned the brutal murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 – an act Mr McDowell rightly condemned, before justifying participation in the series.

McDowell is not alone, Paul Casey has become the latest golfer to join the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series – meaning 22 of the world's top 100 players have left the PGA and DP World Tours.

Former US president Donald Trump has weighed in behind players defecting to the tournament saying the PGA has taken advantage of competitors for too long and LIV “backed by Saudi Arabia” will mean “unlimited amounts of money will be available for the players” and “charity”.

Then again, the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster is scheduled to host an LIV tournament, so The Donald can’t exactly be considered a neutral party.

McDowell has a point in saying that himself (and golf) has been somewhat of a scapegoat because Saudi Arabia’s influence has permeated other sports.

However, he highlighted the problem, telling reporters if you “dug a deep enough” issues would be unearthed in other countries.

While keen observers will be aware of that impact, this series is a more obvious power grab with Saudi sports-washing being aired in plain sight.

At some point high-profile sports stars need to use their platform to call out injustice and stand up for what is right.


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