• D.C.
  • BXL
  • Lagos
  • Dubai
  • Beijing
  • SG
rotating globe
  • D.C.
  • BXL
  • Lagos
Semafor Logo
  • Dubai
  • Beijing
  • SG


Jun 6, 2023, 2:43pm EDT

Donald Trump, 9/11 families, and others react to PGA-LIV merger

LIV tour
REUTERS/Paul Childs
TweetEmailWhatsapp

Sign up for Semafor Flagship: The daily global news briefing you can trust. Read it now.

Title icon

The News

The PGA on Tuesday announced it would merge with the controversial, Saudi-funded LIV Tour, quashing several antitrust litigations between the two.

According to statements from both tours, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the chairman of the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, will become the chairman of the not-yet-named new golf organization.

The news rattled the sports world, but also sparked strong reactions from leaders and activists who are worried about what a closer relationship with the Saudi government means for professional golfers.

AD

Here are some of the most noteworthy takes on the merger.

Title icon

Know More

9/11 Families United

The organization representing families of victims who died during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks slammed PGA commissioner Jay Monahan for going through with the merger.

AD

“The PGA and Monahan appear to have become just more paid Saudi shills, taking billions of dollars to cleanse the Saudi reputation so that Americans and the world will forget how the Kingdom spent their billions of dollars before 9/11 to fund terrorism, spread their vitriolic hatred of Americans, and finance al Qaeda and the murder of our loved ones,” said chair Terry Strada in a statement. “Make no mistake – we will never forget.”

Donald Trump

The former U.S. president called it “a big, beautiful, and glamorous deal for the wonderful world of golf.”

AD

Amin Elhassan

On the LeBatard Show sports podcast, sports commentator Amin Elhassan called out America’s hypocrisy, saying, “There seems to be real comfort with attacking these people...up until the money hits your account.”

Sen. Chris Murphy

The Connecticut senator called out the PGA for apparently reversing course after a meeting with him in recent months.

“So weird. PGA officials were in my office just months ago talking about how the Saudis’ human rights record should disqualify them from having a stake in a major American sport,” he tweeted. “I guess maybe their concerns weren’t really about human rights?”

Steve Schmidt

Political and corporate strategist Steve Schmidt, who worked on the campaigns of former President George W. Bush and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, said the merger was a “shameful and horrendous act of profound betrayal to the United States” and 9/11 victims and families.

Dan Rapaport

Golf writer and analyst Dan Rapaport suggested that it was likely a very difficult decision for Monahan to make but that ultimately “golf was never meant for two warring entities.”

Title icon

Step Back

The LIV emerged as a fierce competitor against the PGA in recent years, having poached some of the PGA’s celebrity players like Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson after the PGA banned its players from competing in LIV events.

Competition only intensified when the LIV and The CW Network struck a multiyear deal to broadcast competitions on American television.

Still, many players, golf executives, and lawmakers have for years said Saudi Arabia is using its influence in sports to distract from its human rights abuses.

The kingdom has also expanded its influence into soccer with nine-figure contracts for stars like Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema to play for Saudi clubs.

Semafor Logo
AD