Trump heaps praise on ‘great’ breakaway LIV Saudi golf league – then insists controversy around murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi has ‘totally died down’ and dismisses protests by saying ‘I don’t know much about the 9/11 families’
- Donald Trump has caused controversy with his comments on the LIV Golf series
- The latest LIV tournament is being held at his Bedminster course this weekend
- Trump says he ‘doesn’t know much about the 9/11 families’ amid their protests
- He also says controversy over Jamal Khashoggi’s death has ‘totally died down’
Donald Trump has given his backing to the Saudi Arabia-funded LIV Golf breakaway league and insists it is ‘one of the best things to have happened in sports’ despite a huge backlash from fans.
The 45th President of the United States will host the latest LIV tournament at his Bedminster, New Jersey course this weekend, and he has – perhaps unsurprisingly – been full of praise for the controversial tour.
While many have described LIV simply as a sportswashing tool for Saudi Arabia, Trump instead believes it has been a hugely positive addition to golf – and he quickly batted away any controversy surrounding 9/11 and the death of US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Speaking to the Wall Street Journal this week, he said: ‘I think LIV has been a great thing for Saudi Arabia, for the image of Saudi Arabia.
‘I think it’s going to be an incredible investment from that standpoint, and that’s more valuable than lots of other things because you can’t buy that—even with billions of dollars.
Former President Donald Trump has heaped praise on LIV as it heads to Bedminster this week
The third event of the controversial LIV Golf Series will be held at Trump National Golf Club
‘I do think that the publicity that they’ve gotten, more than anything, has been a great thing for them.
‘I think the publicity they’ve gotten is worth billions of dollars. It’s one of the hottest things to have happened in sports, and sports is a big part of life.’
There have been protests in the buildup to the tournament from survivors and family members of those that died in the 9/11 terror attacks, in which 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi Arabian citizens.
Trump, though, played down criticism and insisted he was not aware of any backlash, despite protests and press conferences being held near Bedminster.
‘I don’t know much about the 9/11 families, I don’t know what is the relationship to this, and their very strong feelings, and I can understand their feelings,’ he said. ‘I can’t really comment on that because I don’t know exactly what they’re saying, and what they’re saying who did what.’
The 2018 death of journalist and US citizen Khashoggi has also been a huge talking point, with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman allegedly complicit in his killing. LIV Golf is being financed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which is controlled by Bin Salman.
Trump says LIV has been ‘great’ for the image of Saudi Arabia, despite many claiming the tournament is sportswashing and attempting to deflect attention from its human rights record
Phil Mickelson (pictured), Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau have already defected
Again, for Trump though, that is not a concern.
‘I can say that from the standpoint of Khashoggi, that has died down so much,’ the former President added. ‘It really seems to have totally died down. Nobody has asked me that question in months.’
This weekend’s tournament in Bedminster is set to be Henrik Stenson’s first since defecting to the LIV series, and will also feature the likes of Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia and Brooks Koepka.
Trump is a big golf fan himself, and is pictured playing at one of his courses in Scotland