July 29 (BP) — The controversial Saudi-funded LIV golf tournament started Friday as former President Donald Trump hosted the tournament at his Bedminster, N.J., golf club.
Critics, including family members of those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, accuse the Saudi government of using sports to whitewash the kingdom’s human rights record.
That record includes the murder of Saudi Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, alleged ties to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and harsh repression of women’s and LGBTQ+ rights.
The PGA of America canceled plans to hold the 2022 PGA Championship at Trump’s Bedminister course after the pro-Trump violent mob attacked the U.S. Capitol.
The PGA has also sanctioned players for joining the LIV tournament. The Justice Department is investigating the PGA tour for possible anti-competitive behavior in connection to the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series.
In an interview with ESPN, Trump defended hosting the Saudi-backed LIV tournament by saying he’s been friends with the Saudis for years.
“I’ve known these people for a long time in Saudi Arabia. They’ve been friends of mine for a long time. They’ve invested in many American companies. They own big percentages of many, many American companies, and frankly what they’re doing for golf is so great. What they’re doing for the players is so great. The salaries are gonna go way up,” Trump said in the video interview.
Trump is using the presidential seal on towels, golf carts and other items while participating in the Saudi-backed LIV golf tournament.
It is against federal law to use likenesses of the presidential seal in connection with any advertisement to convey a false impression of sponsorship or approval by the government of the United States.
Families of people killed in the Sept. 11 attacks urged Trump to cancel the LIV golf tournament.
They said in a letter, “The evidence is clearer than ever. The Saudi nation is largely responsible for the death of our loved ones and for the horrific attack on America. And you know it.”
The Saudi sovereign wealth fund is financing the LIV tournament with a prize pool total of $405 million next year.