Two weeks ago, LIV Golf – a new golf league funded by the Saudi Arabian government – held an invitational at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, the third event of the fledgling organization’s 2022 season. But if two state senators get their way, New Jersey will be left off the itinerary in future years.
State Sen. Andrew Zwicker (D-South Brunswick) and State Sen./former Gov. Richard Codey (D-Roseland) announced today that they’ve introduced legislation banning “sports organizations operated primarily through use of monies received from sovereign wealth funds,” of which LIV Golf is one, from holding events in New Jersey.
While the bill could technically apply to any sports organization financed by a sovereign wealth fund, Zwicker and Codey made it clear that their target is LIV Golf and the Saudi government, which has been accused of repeated human rights abuses.
“We do not need further recognition or notoriety from hosting competitions that are bankrolled by repressive governments or unsavory actors like Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” Zwicker said in a statement. “This legislation will prohibit the Saudi [Public Investment Fund] or any other sovereign wealth fund from using New Jersey or its sporting organizations in any shameful ‘sports-washing’ endeavors.”
LIV Golf (slogan: “Golf, but louder”) has branded itself as an alternative to the PGA Tour, golf’s premier organization, and has drawn away a number of top players with enticingly large money offers. Many human rights campaigners, however, have argued that the league primarily exists to give the Saudi government a respectable sheen.
In announcing the legislation, Codey highlighted Saudi Arabia’s role in the September 11 attacks, which were largely perpetrated by Saudi nationals.
“No one would have believed that after that terrible day that we would be allowing foreign governments to hold events in New Jersey in an attempt to clean up their image after centuries of human rights abuses and connections to terrorists,” Codey said.