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Trump embraces LIV Golf in support of new Saudi Arabia strategy

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Donald J. Trump has long been playing with becoming a sports baron.

He was the face of the collapsed second football league, trying to buy the NFL franchise for years. He favored becoming a major league rival that never happened, and briefly named his race for elite cyclists.

After decades of sport failure and rejection, the former president has embraced athletic gambit with an urgent thirst for credibility: overturning professional golf and full of funds from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. LIV Golf, an invitation series that has become, is considered another Saudi Arabian effort to use the sport as a reputed disinfectant.

It comes when the former president considers another White House campaign and diplomats navigate the complex and tense relationship with Saudi Arabia’s human rights records-the Washington Post, the source of international anger that Trump has repeatedly played. Including the 2018 killing of columnist Jamal Kashogi-The Trump family’s choice to welcome LIV Golf to two courses this year brings with it the toughest geopolitical features of Trump’s sport advancement.

It can also undermine the harsh message that many Republicans echoed in Saudi Arabia, which has made some of its relations with the Trump family resolutely and rebelliously public.

They have long been involved in golf and criticized Saudi Arabia as presidential candidate, and Trump publicly urged top athletes to leave the PGA Tour for the LIV series, attracting top players with millions of offers. As they shouted out. Of guaranteed money in dollars. They will be re-exhibited this weekend with a Saudi-backed series hosting a tournament at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey. And it’s expected that the Trump Course near Miami will resurface in October, when it will host the final event of the year.

Like many of Trump’s orbits, the deepening of relationships that can ultimately raise concerns about conflicts of interest when the former president returns to public office is one of mutual convenience and vague history. It is not clear how much profit the Trump Organization will make by hosting a Saudi-funded event.

But beyond money, the company’s portfolio of courses is gaining new attention, and decisively a record hosting some of the best golfers in the world for the former president seeking praise.

And when Trump replaces him, for now, as an adjunct to big-time sports, the Saudi fund has blamed the immaturity of the former US president for a strategy that may be accused of “sportswashing.” I’m picking it up.

“I think it’s money, it’s greedy, it’s power,” said President Brett Eagleson of Justice, who questioned whether Saudi officials played a role in the 2001 attack. ..

“It’s not a beginner to have a former president who benefits from those accused of killing our family,” said Eagleson, whose father died at the World Trade Center.

Some Americans with a wealth of experience in the Middle East understand that the former president is not hesitant to pursue money, but that the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia is of little danger.

“For him, it’s commercial and I don’t think he’s particularly worried about the image it gives him,” said Joseph W. Westfar, US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia during the Obama administration. Said.

LIV Golf is “another commercial venture in Saudi Arabia and I’m sure they want to improve their image,” he added.

Golf is not the only sporting interest in Saudi Arabia. Last year, the Public Investment Fund, supervised by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, helped buy Premier League football teams and also funded boxing and Formula One races.

A spokesman did not make Trump, whose successor President Biden met with the Crown Prince in Saudi Arabia this month, available for interviews. Neither the spokesperson nor the representative of the Trump organization answered the written question.

But Mr. Trump told The Wall Street Journal on Monday, “For the image of Saudi Arabia, LIV was great for Saudi Arabia.”

Trump wasn’t always obsessed with the Saudi government. As a 2016 presidential candidate, he accused Saudi Arabia of his role on September 11, grouping Saudi Arabia and Qatar during the debate, and the country “killing gay people” and “killing women” from buildings. Horrifyingly said that “people who deal with women” are included. “

However, upon arriving at the Oval Office, Trump adopted a much more reconciling tone. His first trip abroad as president was to Riyadh, where he enjoyed a luxurious welcome. In 2018, Trump publicly resisted their analysis and accepted the denial of the Crown Prince’s liability after US intelligence officials concluded that Prince Mohammed had approved the killing of Khashoggi.

After Trump left his office, his allies turned to Saudi Arabia as a business pipeline with money to earn and influence to maintain. The sovereign wealth fund has agreed to invest $ 2 billion in a company managed by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. The Saudi Arabian Fund has also invested $ 1 billion in a company run by Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Today, the Trump Empire is openly intertwined with LIV Golf. “We want to” modernize and supercharge “the sport by offering golf, but you don’t know,” said LIV Golf. LIV Golf announced on Wednesday that it will host eight events in 2022 to 14 events next year, offering $ 255 to $ 405 million in wallets this year.

This weekend’s event at Bedminster, a 54-hole uncut tournament, includes six major tournament winners Phil Mickelson and major championship winners such as Bryson DeChambeau, Sergio Garcia and Dustin Johnson. increase. The Trump Organization has been openly promoting its partnership with the series for months, and Trump is encouraging top golfers to join.

The series attracted stars like Mickelson and Johnson and opposed the PGA Tour, which imposed suspension on rebel players, but other major golfers blamed the secession group. Tiger Woods said the North Korean defectors “turned their backs on what allowed them to reach this position.” He also upheld the decision by R & A, the organizer of the British Open, to expel LIV CEO and two-time open winner Greg Norman from the Scottish festival this month.

R & A individually warns that open entry rules may change and can complicate the path for LIV golfers to play in one of the most prestigious events in the world. Other major tournaments may react as well.

It may not have much to do with the Saudi Arabian endowment. The Saudi fund has surprised some observers with its decision to invest in golf and has spent money that could lead to other purposes.

At the very least, Westfar suggested that Saudi Arabia could have chosen a sport with a wider range of appeal.

It’s nothing new for Trump to look at sports for business and attention.

After failing to join the NFL owners in the 1980s, he soon dominated the collapsed US Football League team.

As president, he knelt during the national anthem and participated in a debate about a player who collided with soccer star Megan Rapinoe. He participated in several games, lobbying the Big Ten Conference, and played the first canceled 2020 season due to a coronavirus pandemic, with a particular focus on college football. According to the commissioner of the conference, Mr. Trump has even gone to the point of providing federal Big Ten support to test athletes and others. The league declined the offer, but Trump later claimed, without evidence, “regained Big Ten Football” during the debate.

After leaving the White House, Trump took part in a World Series match, sitting far away from where former President Jimmy Carter was found at the same stadium, and Native American groups often as racists. Participated in the chant of “Tomahawk Chop” in Atlanta, which criticizes.

But Trump had a nasty connection with golf, his favorite sport, and his pursuit of tax deductions. With the support of Jack Nicklaus, he hosted stars such as Ernie Els and Gary Player in a round and presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to players, Woods and Annika Sorenstam.

Tournament organizers keep a longer distance. R & A has not awarded OpentoTurnberry because the Trump company took over control of Turnberry in 2014, despite four events. (As president, Trump urged his ambassador to London to put pressure on the British government on this issue.)

Apart from the PGA Tour, which has fought fiercely with leaving golfers, the PGA of America decided to host the PGA Championship in Bedminster in 2022 before Trump became president. However, after January 6, 2021, the Capitol and the group abandoned the plan and moved the tournament to Oklahoma. The PGA of America later settled with the Trump Organization.

Many observers consider the decision to host a Saudi-backed series to be a retaliation effort if it is directed in a slightly wrong direction that could impose political costs. For Republicans who pressured Biden to take a tough attitude towards the crown prince, the presence of LIV Golf on Trump’s course could prove an unwelcome pastime, and strategists said voters would do this. I’m worried about how I can handle the fall.

Texas Republican Rep. Chiproy did not criticize Trump directly, but said in an interview that it was inappropriate to “support” the Saudi series “in the shadow of Bedminster’s Ground Zero.” On later television, he wondered if LIV Golf representatives should register with the Justice Department on behalf of foreign governments.

“You don’t have to see former President Trump, who is making a fuss about LIV Golf coming to Bedminster, saying this is a great promotion for Saudi Arabia,” Roy said of Fox Business.

Some of the most intense criticisms come from the families of the victims on September 11. They complain that Trump had previously spoken of their anxieties about Saudi Arabia, but reversed the course after his family made a profit.

“Trump is a former head of state,” said Eagleson, whose group is planning a protest on Friday. “He was once the most powerful person in the world. You must have a set of morals.”

In a statement this week, LIV Golf spokeswoman Jane McNeill said the series was “intended to book top courses in the top markets,” and “Bedminster was delighted to have LIV. “.

Trump said he had arrived at the tournament on Wednesday morning. He soon started promoting the event, promoting money that was at stake for players.

Bill Pennington Contribution report.