Why was there no uproar about the women’s golf alliance with the Saudis? – Irish Times

Women’s European Tour [LET] He lands at Dromoland Castle this week for the re-awakened Ireland Open. Coverage and crowds will far outweigh the depth of field and richness of the bag, but it will be a kind of homecoming for Leona Maguire, after a significant 12 months, and a short break from mud wrestling in the men. Game.

In a worldwide fishing tour for the public, and in its unwavering quest to reach the crust, LET has already been in Southeast Asia, Africa, Australia, the Middle East and all over Europe since February. Ireland is the 20th country on the hosts list, and that number will reach 22 by the end of the season.

The next tour stops after Dromoland Castle, however, picking up where the tour came from and what future to see. The Aramco Teams Series will take place in mid-October at a Donald Trump-run golf course in New York, and will be funded primarily from the same amount of Saudi money that funds the LIV Series of golf, and a series of other “sports wash” projects.

Given the stench about Saudi money seeping through the men’s game, concern about Saudi money buying Newcastle United, and tortured conversations every time another major sporting event is lured with Saudi money and is staged in the kingdom, why hasn’t there been a fuss about women’s golf entering the Such an alliance? Was anyone paying attention?

That was part of the problem. The Women’s European Tour was teetering on the brink of oblivion due to not enough people paying attention. They are stuck and open to bidding. So, women’s golf, like many other professional sports, plunged into a moral maze, with open eyes, without urgent worries about losing oneself.

Jack-Nicklaus designed a links course in Ferry Point, where LET next heads, owned by New York City, but licensed to the Trump Organization. Shortly after Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol in January 2021, then-New York Mayor Bill de Blasio – a Democrat – announced that he would cancel Trump’s contract to operate the golf course, and several Central Park concessions as well. However, the mayor’s escape from conscience was brought down in Manhattan court. In this case, the rhetoric of the law was on Trump’s side.

This year’s PGA Championship, one of the men’s top four majors, was originally scheduled for Bedminster, a Trump-owned course, but after the mutiny, the US PGA canceled the reservation and redirected it to Southern Hills. Despite this, LET has never had such a complacency about the Trump brand, no matter how radioactive it may be.

Their relationship with Aramco, the state-owned Saudi oil company, began when the LeT was fighting for its life. In 2017, seven events were pulled from their schedule, and by 2019 they only had 20 championships, seven of which were shared with other rounds. Prize money was minimal, and in some tournaments, the displayed world ranking points were calculated in single digits.

Whether or not LET accepts funds from Aramco will not affect the pace of change. But they were desperate. So they took it. Was this a good reason? It was the worst reason.

When the pandemic decimated the 2020 season, reducing it to just a dozen championships, supporting their rapid slide were two events in Saudi Arabia at the end of the year – the first professional women’s sports events of any kind to be staged there. . For the following season, Aramco signed up for eight tournaments worth $5 million — no more than LIV’s incentive to be the handyman on the PGA Tour, but a life-saving sum for LET.

Were they concerned about the source of the money, about Saudi Arabia’s long history of human rights abuses, about its state-imposed murders, about its political repression, and about its treatment of the LBGTQ+ community? In their eyes, they could not stand it. The tour was on its knees. Almost half of its members were earning less than €20,000 a year in tournament profits: they were desperate to get a donor.

When the LIV chain picked up pace, sold obscene amounts of money, proponents of the LET deal with Aramco were keen to distinguish: It was the difference, they said, between greed and necessity. Which basically meant that Saudi Arabia’s global image, and the sports-laundering money, was being sent to a more attractive laundromat.

Some discriminatory laws against women in Saudi Arabia have been relaxed in recent years. Women are now free to drive – even as some women who defended this basic freedom remain imprisoned – and can travel abroad without the permission of their male guardian. But women are still prohibited from marrying or living alone without the man’s consent.

The sport seems to have opened up a bit. Until 2017, for example, women were not allowed to attend football matches; Now there is a women’s league. More than half of the sports federations in Saudi Arabia now have women representation on their boards of directors, in line with Vision 2030, a government plan designed to “push out old ideas of the place of women in sport”.

Whether or not LET accepts funds from Aramco will not affect the pace of change. But they were desperate. So they took it. Was this a good reason? It was the worst reason.