Amnesty International has criticized Greg Norman for “wrong and seriously misguided” comments about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi Arabian consulate in 2018 and the high number of executions carried out this year by the kingdom.
Norman, the chief executive of Saudi-backed LIV Golf Investments, was asked about Khashoggi’s death during promotional work in the UK for an upcoming tournament. Last year US intelligence agencies concluded that the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, had approved Khashoggi’s murder. The LIV Golf Series gets underway in Hertfordshire in June.
Norman had said: “This whole thing about Saudi Arabia and Khashoggi and human rights; talk about it, but also talk about the good that the country is doing in changing its culture. Look, we’ve all made mistakes and you just want to learn by those mistakes and how you can correct them going forward. “
Pressed on the execution of 81 men in Saudi Arabia in March, Norman added: “I got a lot of messages but quite honestly I look forward. I don’t look back. I don’t look into the politics of things. I’m not going to get into the quagmire of whatever else happens in someone else’s world. I heard about it and just kept moving on. ”
Felix Jakens, Amnesty UK’s head of campaigns, told the Guardian: “Greg Norman’s remarks that the Saudi government’s brutal murder of Khashoggi and its attempted cover-up were a ‘mistake’ were wrong and seriously misguided. Far from trying to ‘move on’, the Saudi authorities have attempted to sweep their crimes under the carpet, avoiding justice and accountability at every turn.
“The regime’s human rights record is an abomination – from its murder of Khashoggi to recent mass executions and the situation for LGBTI + people, which continues to be dire.
“The LIV Golf Invitational Series is yet one more event in a series of sportswashing exercises that the Saudi authorities are using to clean its blood-soaked image. Everyone involved in any of the sporting events held there, or that are sponsored by Saudi Arabia, must be aware of what is going on in the kingdom and speak out about the government’s brazen abuses. ”
Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter are among those who are due to feature at LIV’s tournament at the Centurion Club in Hertfordshire next month. Norman’s breakaway tour plans have met firm resistance from golf’s existing ecosystem.