The PGA Tour’s memo on Thursday, which announced the suspensions of players who teed it up at The Centurion Club in London, referred to Greg Norman’s breakaway tour as the “Saudi Golf League,” instead of by its name: LIV Golf Invitational Series.
This was a purposeful jab to make sure everyone knew that their competition was being funded by Saudi money.
They continued to poke by declaring their “DNA” could not be bought or sold.
With that virtuous flex, we decided to review the PGA Tour’s partners and peek behind the curtains – making sure they’re not hypocrites.
The first thing we found was off-the-charts ironic: the Saudi PIF (Public Investment Fund) – the same controversial fund that is underwriting the LIV Golf tour – has a stake in the PGA Tour Fan Shop.
The PGA Tour Fan Shop is a white-labelled version of Fanatics, a company now valued at $100 billion. In 2017, though, it had a valuation of just $4.5 billion upon receiving a $1 billion investment from Saudi PIF-backed SoftBank Vision Fund. The majority stakeholder, at 45%, is Saudi PIF, with 28% owned by SoftBank and 15% by Mubadala Investment Company (Govt of United Arab Emirates).
In later rounds, Fanatics raised funds through investments from Communist China’s Alibaba and the Qatar Investment Authority.
So, to review: The “DNA” of the PGA Tour Fan Shop can be traced to Saudi Arabia, China, Qatar and UAE.
Stay tuned. More to come.