Greg Norman hit an astonishing new low on Wednesday when the golfer decided to talk about criticism of the Saudi Arabian government as part of the Saudi-backed LIV golf series, of which he’s an organizing member. The league’s aim is to wrestle control of international golf from the PGA Tour, but more importantly serves as part of the country’s sportswashing campaign to use large, international events to deflect from the nation’s human rights atrocities.
Norman spoke at an LIV-sponsored event in England and dove in to addressing the elephant in the room, namely Saudi Arabia’s human rights violations, and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
“This whole thing about Saudi Arabia and Khashoggi and human rights, talk about it, but also talk about the good that the country is doing in changing its culture. Look, we’ve all made mistakes and you just want to learn by those mistakes and how you can correct them going forward,”
Just to be clear: Norman’s suggestion is not to talk about human rights violations without discussing culture change, and also that ordering the murder of a journalist inside an embassy, taking a human life for being critical of a regime, is a mistake that can somehow be “corrected” moving forward.
While Norman is gleefully accepting his blood money, he suggests that critics just need to move on.
“I haven’t had a personal conversation with MBS (Saudi prince Muhammed bin Salman), I’ve never met the guy, but at the same time I do read that the Saudi government has made their statements and comments about it and they want to move forward.”
While Norman has read the Saudi Arabian government’s position on the issue, perhaps he hasn’t looked over the intelligence reports of the international community? A 2021 report released by Biden administration said, in no uncertain terms, that Muhammad bin Salman directly ordered Khashoggi to be detained or killed.
“We assess that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.”
These are the terms Norman is willing to accept. Sure, he’s a part of a campaign to improve the perception of the Saudi regime abroad and gloss over their human rights violations, but it’s all about the money — and that trumps everything else for those involved in the the LIV. The LIV league is set to offer huge prize money and unprecedented purses to the golfers willing to turn their backs on the PGA Tour, in an attempt to wrestle the control of international golf.
When it comes to the wealth being thrown around there’s no room for criticism in the minds of people like Greg Norman. The ends justify the means, no matter how dirty or gross it is along the way.