Wednesday, October 27

After the soccer revolt, where is the clamor for the Saudi-led golf breakup? | Golf


PPeople often ask about the difference in media focus between top-level footballers and golfers. The general understanding would be that soccer players, deprived of educational qualifications, have a cynical attitude towards the press that is instilled within clubs and treat journalists accordingly. Golfers, often with at least one element of the US college system on their CV, understand the need to keep both tour sponsors and individuals happy and therefore address the duties of the golfers. media as a fundamental responsibility.

In some respects, that generalization is correct. In many others it is tremendously unfair. Footballers are met with a level of criticism from the media that is rarely, if ever, bestowed on golfers. Premier League players are subject to scrutiny, personal and professional, that would be totally foreign to even Rory McIlroy. The golfers featured on the covers are rare, but that shouldn’t lead us to believe that they are all as pure as snow.

Poor performance on the field, other than Ryder Cups, etc., only affects that player. When footballers appear in front of a microphone after an unfortunate result, the anger of the fans is channeled through online channels. The convenience of broadcast associations means that you are not likely to see outbursts of golfers, aimed at your caddy, the course or otherwise, in the general coverage. Not good for the brand.

In short, golfers lead lovely lives. That was noteworthy as the sport’s breakaway tour came back to prominence last week. As has tended to be the norm with this project, it duly disappeared from the broader discourse. And no wonder; When Phil Mickelson, a key Saudi-backed Super Golf League target, performed his duties on the media podium after a first round of 64 at the Wells Fargo Championship, two of the four questions raised were related to his use of a two wood.

Bryson DeChambeau’s broader lectures also steered clear of what McIlroy called “money theft.” Mickelson, DeChambeau and others can apparently view the Saudis’ offers of dazzling sums of money without anyone focusing on why they might be associated with such a controversial – or abhorrent – regime, depending on one’s level of background reading. Authoritarianism for golfers? “How big is the check?”

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy has denounced the breakdown of the Saudi-backed Super Golf League as a “money grab”. Photograph: Jacob Kupferman / AP

Justin Rose and his team are proud of the former world number one women’s series which provides a valuable tournament opportunity in the UK. However, since Rose was linked to the Super League, there was no trace that her management alienated her client from Saudi cash. Human rights violations in the kingdom are widely known, and the Amnesty International website states in 2020: “Women and girls continued to face discrimination in law and in practice in relation to marriage, divorce and inheritance. , and they remained inadequately protected against sexual violence and other forms of violence. “How does this fit in with Rose’s female series commitment?

On a more general but equally bleak issue, Amnesty added: “The repression of the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly intensified. Among those harassed, arbitrarily detained, prosecuted and / or jailed were government critics, women’s rights activists, human rights defenders, relatives of activists, journalists, members of the Shiite minority and online critics of government responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. “

The Saudi golf scheme is distasteful enough to many on the grounds that it has clearly antagonized the PGA Tour, the European Tour, the PGA of America, and the United States Golf Association. The viability of the Ryder Cup would be called into question. The R&A and Augusta National, not prone to public comment, said enough in short statements for us to deduce that they are not interested either. Nor should they be; Relations with Saudi Arabia would be totally and unacceptably at odds with the progress that these groups are responsible for monitoring in golf. The players either haven’t contemplated that dichotomy or they don’t care.

When the European Super League crashed on the ears of the same executives who thought they had come up with the perfect closed store, it was in the context of the fury of the fans. There is no golf equivalent to that; Except for the Ryder Cup, which takes place once every two years, this is not really a tribal setting. Another key difference is that soccer clubs had already committed to their lucrative getaway. So far, golfers have only been in lengthy negotiations over a plan that would result in the PGA and European Tours losing players in a global 14-event setting where team and individual elements combine.

What the two sports and their renegade models do have in common are negotiators; in golf case managers or agents, who generally, not exclusively, like dollar signs and therefore should be viewed with suspicion in the context of what they consider preferable for the future of the sport . Any player who agrees to a $ 100 million Saudi contract, and make no mistake, could benefit the middle man to a point where the application of the death penalty may not be top of mind.

It is where the money comes from that is more important to this scheme than whether it is proposed in the first place. Yet when the Saudis can operate in the shadows of golf, with no press conferences, no briefings, no visible public relations at all, and those they persecute are not vetted on the ethics of what they might be about to jump. , everyone involved has the right to believe that a world that watches does not care. Those in certain football club boardrooms, criticized and ridiculed to the point of taking a very embarrassing U-turn, should raise an eyebrow.


www.theguardian.com

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