While lawyers for LIV Golf try to shed light on the PGA Tour’s organizational structure and financial dealings as part of an antitrust lawsuit, the head of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has insisted it shouldn’t do the same, claiming “sovereign immunity.”
According to a report issued by Bloomberg News, Governor of the Public Investment Fund, Yasser Al-Rumayyan, on Tuesday A California federal judge has been asked to overturn a request from the PGA Tour to compel them to testify and submit documents for a lawsuit. He accuses LIV of unfair competition to offer lucrative deals to players to break their PGA contracts.
The original lawsuit, filed in August by Phil Mickelson and 10 other golfers, has been taken over by LIV Golf, which falls under the umbrella of PIF.
However, officials at the Saudi-run company said they only have high-level oversight of LIV Golf and do not deal with day-to-day operations. The request also stated that the move could set a “dangerous precedent” if the PIF were forced to disclose its books, since the company has investments in major companies such as Wal-Mart and Starbucks and could be ready for similar requests regarding any lawsuits filed against the companies it owns. The wealth fund, which was organized in 1971 as a way for the Saudi Arabian government to invest in various projects and companies, is currently valued at $676 billion.
“Now that I’m involved in LIV (golf), I don’t have to be involved,” Mickelson said in September when he withdrew from the lawsuit. “The only reason I stay is for the (financial) damages, which I really don’t want nor need for anything. I think it’s important that players have the right to play when and where they want and when and where they qualify. Now that LIV (golf) is a part of it, it will be Achieve it if they win and when they win.”
The original suit he obtained Golf WeekStates:
As the Tour’s monopoly has grown in power, it has used its dominance to craft an arsenal of anti-competitive restrictions to protect its longstanding monopoly. Now, LIV Golf, Inc. is threatened with entry. (“LIV Golf”), and quite contrary to its founding mission, the Tour has ventured to harm the careers and livelihoods of any golfer, including plaintiffs Phil Mickelson, Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford, Matt Jones, Bryson DeChambeau, Abraham Ancer, Carlos Ortiz, and Ian Poulter, Pat Perez, Jason Kokrak and Peter Uihlein (“The Pretender”), who have the audacity to challenge the tour and play in newcomer sponsored tournaments. The Tour did so in a deliberate and relentless effort to crush the nascent competition before it threatened the Tour’s monopoly.
The PGA Tour then sent the US District Court in Northern California a 32-page response to the initial lawsuit, as well as a separate seven-page example of what it calls mischaracterizations and errors of honesty made by LIV players.
Then Added counter suit in September, Seeking damages for brand and reputation damages.
While the LIV alleged that the tour uses monopoly power and illegally suspended players, the tour’s counterclaim alleges that the LIV uses players, “and the game of golf to launder recent history of Saudi atrocities and to advance the Saudi Public Investment Fund’s Vision 2030 initiatives.”
LIV Golf has long been criticized as a way for the kingdom to launder its human rights record with guaranteed money and multimillion-dollar deals. Saudi Arabia has been accused of widespread human rights abuses, including politically motivated killings, torture, enforced disappearances, and inhumane treatment of prisoners. Members of the royal family and the Saudi government have been accused of involvement in the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Washington Post columnist.