LIV Golf Releases Statement After Greg Norman’s Comments on Jamal Khashoggi Killing

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The LIV Golf Invitational Series released a statement Thursday following CEO Greg Norman’s remarks on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, per ESPN’s Mark Schlabach.

“The killing of Jamal Khashoggi was reprehensible. Everyone agrees on that, including Greg, as he has said as such previously on many occasions. Greg also knows that golf is a force for good around the world and can help make inroads toward positive change. That is why he is so excited about LIV and that was the point he was making.”

On Wednesday, Norman was in London to promote LIV Golf’s first-ever event, a three-day tournament that will occur at Centurion Club in Hertfordshire, England beginning June 9.

A reporter asked Norman about the alleged complicity of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the 2018 murder of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

“From what I heard and what you guys reported, just take ownership of what it is,” Norman said in response.

“Take ownership no matter what it is. Look, we’ve all made mistakes, and you just want to learn from those mistakes and how you can correct them going forward.”

In an exclusive with Tom Morgan of the Telegraph, Hatice Cengiz, who was engaged to Khashoggi, responded to Norman characterizing the murder a “mistake”:

“It is so hurtful when Jamal’s brutal killing is brushed off as a ‘mistake’ and that we should just move on. Would you say that if it was your loved one? How can we go forward when those who ordered the murder are still unpunished, and continue to try to buy back their legitimacy? We should not fall for their wealth and lies, and lose our morals and common humanity. We should all be insisting on the truth and justice; only then can we look forward with hope and dignity.”

LIV Golf has received much criticism due to its alliance with Saudi Arabia, a country with significant reported human rights violations, per Amnesty International, including the murder of Khashoggi.

The BBC reported in Feb. 2021 that a United States intelligence report stated that “Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi,” who was a critic of the Saudi government and worked as a Washington Post columnist. 

The crown prince has denied any role in the murder. Saudi Arabia called the report “negative, false and unacceptable.”

LIV Golf Investments plans to hold an eight-event series from June to October.

On Tuesday, LIV Golf announced a $2 billion investment from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund that “will be used to fund ongoing expansion and prize purses for the new LIV Golf schedule,” per Owen Poindexter of Front Office Sports.

The Saudi Arabian government has previously been accused of sportswashing—using investments in sports and entertainment to improve the regime’s image and distract from human rights abuses—as it has hosted Formula 1, WWE and boxing events and completed a takeover of English Premier League club Newcastle United in 2021.

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