LIV Golf Investments have moved to defend its CEO Greg Norman following his bizarre comments over the murder of Jamal Khasoggi.
In 2018, the Saudi journalist was assassinated in Turkey after criticising his country’s government regime. Last year, US intelligence agencies concluded that the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, had approved the killing.
Norman, 67, is fronting the new Saudi-backed breakaway golf tour and last week, attended The Centurion Club in Hertfordshire for the media launch of the project. The venue will host LIV Golf’s inaugural event in June, with a 54-hole tournament yielding an overall prize purse of $25million.
During the launch, Norman, who won two Open Championship titles during his own playing career, was pressed by journalists on Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and more specifically, the death of Khashoggi. And his response proved a controversial one.
“Everybody has owned up to it, right? It has been spoken about, from what I’ve read, going on what you guys reported. Take ownership, no matter what it is,” he said. “Look, we’ve all made mistakes and you just want to learn from those mistakes and how you can correct them going forward.”
Norman’s apparent apathy towards such a harrowing incident unsurprisingly drew much criticism. Amnesty International labelled the comments “wrong and seriously misguided,” adding: “The Saudi authorities have attempted to sweep their crimes under the carpet, avoiding justice and accountability at every turn.”
LIV Golf however, have now seemingly tried to dismiss the notion that Norman doesn’t understand the magnitude of what happened. In a released statement, the company said: “The killing of Jamal Khashoggi was reprehensible.
“Everyone agrees about that, including Greg and 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.” Regardless, the Australian’s comments represent another divisive chapter in a saga that is currently tainting world golf.
The likes of Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, and Phil Mickleson are among the players to have applied for a release from their governing bodies to play at The Centurion Club next month. However, both the DP World and PGA Tours have been unified in stating they would not be granting any of them permission.
A furious Norman has responded by promising his company will offer support to any player blocked from competing. He’s vowed LIV Golf will fund any fines or subsequent legal action.
Despite failing to attract the top names, the man dubbed ‘The Great White Shark’ has remained defiant about pressing ahead with events. He’s adamant that once events get underway and stars comprehend the money on offer, their heads will be turned.