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Crown Prince: Saudi Arabia ‘will continue doing sportswashing’ for money


Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman attends a session on ‘Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment’ as part of the G20 summit in New Delhi on September 9, 2023. (Photo by EVELYN HOCKSTEIN / POOL / AFP) (Photo by EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman dismissed accusations of sportswashing and called a potential agreement between the PGA Tour, European circuit and LIV Golf a “game-changer for the golf industry.”

In an interview on Wednesday with Fox News, bin Salman – the deputy prime minister and de facto ruler of the Saudi kingdom – was asked about Saudi Arabia’s ongoing investments in sports, including the potential agreement that would create a new entity combining the for-profit assets of the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf, which is primarily owned by the Saudi Public Investment Fund.

“Well, if sportswashing is going to increase my GDP by one percent, then I will continue doing sportswashing,” bin Salman said.

The PIF, Tour and European circuit announced the framework agreement in June and the potential deal has already drawn scrutiny from the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations which has held two hearings on the deal.

The Tour was already being investigated by the Department of Justice for possible anti-trust violations and the potential definitive agreement would likely attract even more scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators.

“That’s a game-changer for the golf industry,” bin Salman said of the potential agreement. “You will not have competition, and you will have focus developing the game, and that’s good for the players and the fans who love golf.”

Bin Salman created Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 project to reduce the Kingdom’s reliance on oil by diversifying the economy. The project also calls for a “vibrant society,” with sports being a central tenet of that goal, but critics claim the government uses sportswashing to mitigate abuses like the 2018 killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.