PGA Tour chief operating officer Ron Price and board member Jimmy Dunne testified before the US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) on Tuesday about the proposed Public Investment Fund deal with Saudi Arabia. Here’s what you need to know:
- Before the hearing, the Senate subcommittee released a 276-page memo containing communications and other documents that shed light on how the PGA Tour-PIF agreement came together.
- It has been revealed that the PGA Tour has sought a side agreement with the PIF that would have removed Greg Norman as CEO of LIV. Price said Tuesday that the deal has not been implemented, but “there’s no reason to bring in that kind of executive” if an agreement is reached because the PGA Tour will run and operate the events.
- PSI Chairman Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) urged Price and Dunne to renege on the deal, accusing the “brutal, repressive (Saudi) regime” of “sportswashing” with the victims’ families. of 9/11 attendees. Dunne said in response to the criticism: “If there was any person who had even the remotest connection to an attack on our country or the killing of my friends, I would be the last person to sit at a table with them. .”
- When asked how much the Saudi PIF would invest in the proposed deal, Dunne said “north of $1 billion.”
Tuesday’s hearing comes after the June 12 launch of a Senate investigation into the controversial agreement between the PGA Tour and the Saudi Arabian PIF to create a new company that will put commercial interests between the tour , the PIF related golf holdings (including LIV Golf) and the European Tour. The bipartisan hearing was chaired by Blumenthal (D-CT) and Ranking Member Ron Johnson (R-WI).
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, who is currently on a medical leave of absence, was not present at the hearing. He announced last week that he will return to his role on July 17. PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan and Norman also did not show up due to scheduling conflicts.
The business arrangement between the PGA Tour and the PIF was originally announced on June 6. As part of the deal, both sides agreed to drop all existing litigation. Less than a week later, Blumenthal announced an investigation and requested all communications related to the deal.
As part of the negotiations leading to the implementation of the framework agreement, the PIF requested that Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy own LIV Golf teams and participate in at least 10 LIV Golf events. It also called for a “LIV Golf style team global event” that would include events in Saudia Arabia and culminate in the final weekend in Dubai. Neither is part of the deal, and Woods’ future playing of competitive golf is unclear after April surgery on his ankle, part of his ongoing recovery from a devastating car accident in February 2021.
Blumenthal’s opening statement
“Today’s hearing is about more than a game of golf…It’s about how a brutal, repressive regime can buy influence — indeed take over — a cherished American institution just to clean up its mess. public image. A regime that kills journalists, imprisons and tortures dissidents, promotes war in Yemen, and supports other terrorist activities, including 9/11. This is called sportswashing,” said the Senator at the opening of the hearing on Tuesday.
“It is also about hypocrisy, and how much money can induce individuals and institutions to betray their own values and supporters, or perhaps reveal a lack of values from the beginning. About it’s other sports and institutions that can be victimized – if their leaders allow it to be all about money.
“Perhaps to state the obvious, sports are important to our culture and society, with many implications for our way of life, our local economy and communities close to home, and our image abroad.”
“We hope that today’s hearing will help us to understand not only the reasons for the sudden change in the PGA Tour and what it means for golf, but to understand what the same investment of authoritarians that government with deep pockets can mean for our country, for our national security, and for the world.”
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