Chip Roy fires LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman over Saudi ties

Texas Republicans have largely avoided taking sides in a professional golf showdown between the Saudi-backed PGA Tour and the MTA, but not Texas Rep. Chip Roy does not, which includes the Hill Country area northwest of San Antonio.

The Advanced Golf League is financed by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund as part of a contract plan to diversify its economy from oil dependence and increase tourism. Unlike other professional sports, professional golfers traditionally do not enjoy guaranteed areas regardless of performance or health status, but instead earn winnings based on their finish in the tournament.

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LIV took advantage of this and gave tens or even hundreds of millions to hunt some of the best players in the world. The CEO is Australian golf legend Greg Norman, who is also a longtime friend and supporter of former President Donald J. Trump.

Norman visited Capitol Hill on Wednesday to address the conservative House of Representatives caucus and reiterate his claims that the PGA Tour violated federal antitrust laws in its efforts to prevent players from jumping ship. He may have expected a friendly reception given his close ties to Trump, who has backed the Saudi league and hosted one of his tournaments at his New Jersey club this summer, but Roy appeared to be having none of it.

“Don’t come here and act like you’re doing something big while you’re sending a billion dollars of money in Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabia to the United States,” Roy told reporters after the event. As mentioned by hill. Roy then described Norman’s visit to the Capitol as “public relations for Saudi Arabia – it’s PR for Gulf LIV”.

LIV Golf spokesman Jonathan Gerla said Roy’s comments did not reflect the positive reception Norman received on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

“LIV’s message about the benefits of competition was well received, even if some members of Congress said otherwise,” he said.

‘We should be worried’

The LIV Golf and PGA Tour showdown challenged the elegant political classes.

Players who sign the LIV are banned from PGA Tour events, although they can still play in certain majors or international tournaments if they qualify. Trump and some of his allies sided with LIV on the PGA Tour. Before President Joe Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia this year, news leaked that his Justice Department was investigating the PGA Tour for anti-competitive conduct against LIV.

Senator John Cornyn, a Republican, wrote to Biden shortly afterward, saying, “The timing raises questions about Saudi Arabia’s involvement in both the primary antitrust investigation and Monday’s media reports about the investigation, as well as possible foreign pressure matters relating to the foreign agents. Registration Act.”

Roy said in a phone interview Thursday afternoon that he also contacted the Ministry of Justice and asked them to consider whether Norman and LIV Golf should register as clients of a foreign government because he believes they are already doing public relations work for Saudi Arabia. . Jarla, a spokesperson for LIV, said the association’s lawyers advised them that they did not need to register.

“They didn’t really say anything about Saudi Arabia, they just said, ‘We want competition and everything is good and cool and we just want butterflies and rhinos or whatever.’ And I just wanted to emphasize the importance of that: “As Americans, they have companies that have relationships with our competitors that are buying American institutions,” Roy said of Wednesday’s meeting.

“As Americans, we should be concerned about a 100-year-old institution — technically 50 years old but 100 years of history — that was designed specifically by a foreigner to promote themselves,” Roy said. “I think the PGA Tour has been great for the sport. Great for America. Great for our communities.”

Trump connections

While LIV Golf is classified as for-profit, the PGA Tour is a non-profit organization that has raised more than $3 billion for charity. Texas events include the Houston Open in the fall, a world championship of golf held in Austin each spring, as well as the Dallas event.

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