JULY 26, 2022
- LIV Golf is set to play its third event this week at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
- Speaking with the Wall Street Journal, the former president offered his thoughts on the new league.
Former President Donald Trump said that LIV Golf has been worth billions in publicity for Saudi Arabia ahead of the upstart golf league’s third tournament, set to be held at Trump’s course in Bedminster, New Jersey.
“I do think that the publicity that they’ve gotten, more than anything, has been a great thing for them,” Trump said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. “I think the publicity they’ve gotten is worth billions of dollars. It’s one of the hottest things to have happened in sports, and sports is a big part of life.”
Backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, LIV Golf has shuffled the top tier of golf, poaching players away from the PGA Tour with huge guaranteed paydays and similarly impressive purses at tournaments.
Critics have called LIV Golf an example of “sportswashing”— capitalizing on the public’s love of sport to help launder the image of Saudi Arabia and act as a distraction from issues like human rights violations.
Trump agreed that the new league had been quite beneficial to Saudi Arabia from a public relations standpoint.
“I think LIV has been a great thing for Saudi Arabia, for the image of Saudi Arabia,” Trump said. “I think it’s going to be an incredible investment from that standpoint, and that’s more valuable than lots of other things because you can’t buy that — even with billions of dollars.”
Trump also downplayed the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, despite a declassified US intelligence report released last year explicitly implicating Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Khashoggi’s killing.
“I can say that from the standpoint of Khashoggi, that has died down so much,” Trump said. “It really seems to have totally died down.”
Trump also deferred from specifically commenting on the criticisms of LIV made by families of 9/11 victims. On Tuesday, an advocacy group for 9/11 victims and families released a 30-second ad that will play in the New York markets, admonishing the players, Trump and his course for their participation. The Saudi kingdom has denied any involvement in 9/11, but some of the terrorists involved were Saudi nationals.
“I don’t know much about the 9/11 families, I don’t know what is the relationship to this, and their very strong feelings, and I can understand their feelings,” he said. “I can’t really comment on that because I don’t know exactly what they’re saying, and what they’re saying who did what.”
Trump’s support for LIV comes as the new league has committed to hosting two events at his properties — this week’s tournament in Bedminster and the season finale at Trump National Doral in Miami, Florida.