The 4 Aces Team, number one seeds, with LIV Golf Commissioner Greg Norman (left) Image Credit: Supplied

It never fails. In fact, it has become a standard practice of some Western writers and broadcasters in foreign media to zero in on any attempt by Saudi Arabia to introduce a new sporting venture or even become associated with one.

One such example is the LIV Golf tournaments that have been criticised by sections of the western press. LIV events are professional golf tours that are financed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia.

Much to the chagrin of the PGA Tour, the organisers of professional golf tours in the United States and North America — that was established almost a hundred years ago in 1929 — LIV Golf has in a short time frame attracted most of the world’s leading golfers to its roster.

Headed by former World No. 1 Greg Norman, the list includes Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, and Phil Mickelson, all former PGA champions.

The alleged arguments against the Saudi-sponsored LIV Golf are manifold. The objections to the LIV are so strong that players linked to the LIV are banned from participating in PGA events.

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Not an isolated incident

This is not an isolated incident. The world-renowned Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo recently signed a two-year contract with a leading Saudi soccer club Al Nassr. Immediately following the news of his transfer, media critics — primarily from the western hemisphere — jumped on the phoney sport-swashing bandwagon, lamenting Ronaldo’s move and calling for him to reconsider.

Saudi Arabia was accused — falsely — of making high-profile, expensive sporting purchases, including buying English soccer club Newcastle United and hosting golf competitions and the Grand Prix as part of sports-washing. Therefore the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo was dubbed as just another attempt at that same thing. But it didn’t end there.

There was more to come. The Women’s World Cup 2023 co-hosts, the football federations of New Zealand Football and Football Australia — both contacted FIFA to urgently clarify the situation over the reported ‘Visit Saudi’ deal.

The Saudi tourism arm is one of the principal sponsors along with Adidas, Coca-Cola, and Visa, and attaching their name to the tournament apparently has not sat well with some quarters. Once it became public that ‘Visit Saudi’ (the Saudi Arabia tourist board) would be named as a major sponsor of the tournament, FIFA was asked for clarifications.

Cristinao Ronaldo Al Nassr
Cristiano Ronaldo wrote: "I can't wait to discover a new football league in a different country." The former Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus player has joined Al Nassr FC of Saudi Arabia Image Credit: Twitter

What about the rights of millions?

Let me counter by stating that such attempts by certain quarters are abusing my human rights and the rights of millions of Saudis. This effort to curtail sporting events with a battery of unproven, baseless and malicious remarks is nothing but slander.

The millions who follow Cristiano Ronaldo and his magic on the field or the hordes who gather to follow LIV golf events or are ardently glued to the television during F1 races held in their country should not be denied by this band of detractors.

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Denying us access to such global sporting events is human rights abuse and I for one, am sick and tired of writers and broadcasters who spin old, tired, biased slants.

Without getting too personal, if you want to look at rights abuses, please look deeply into your own countries and you will uncover a treasure of material to pontificate about. There are very few countries that can claim perfection and most of the critics are not from them.

What Saudi Arabia is doing today is emerging from its past. In doing so, the country is opening themselves to the world. The Kingdom is being unfairly targeted.

Saudi Arabia protects the rights of all. To deny us, the Saudi citizens, access to sports is in itself the biggest rights abuse in this day and age.

— Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi sociopolitical commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Twitter: @talmaeena