Henrik Stenson: Executions happen in US and China, do we stop playing there?!

Henrik Stenson says the LIV Golf League players are being held to a different standard as he called for balance in the sportswashing debate.

Ben Smith's picture
Fri, 24 Feb 2023
Henrik Stenson: Executions happen in US and China, do we stop playing there?!

Henrik Stenson says LIV Golf League critics are so "targeted on one area they can't see the bigger picture" as he called for balance in the sportswashing debate. 

Stenson, 46, has given an interview to i's Kevin Garside where the Swede did not shy away from the tough questions. 

Those questions will not surprise you. Sportswashing. LIV's Saudi backers. Human rights abuses. Guaranteed pay days. 

You get the picture. 

Related: Stenson confident LIV will win legal showdown

Stenson told the publication he understands the overall picture in Saudi Arabia "is not perfect" but the axed Ryder Cup captain has claimed LIV provides the opportunity to "bridge some gaps and influence people in different ways". 

He told the publication:

"Where do you draw the line? You have people shouting recently about Qatar, about workforce abuses, poor conditions, accidents that lead to death.
"You can't scream and shout about that then go to Dubai, lie on a beach and think everything's lovely.
"It is the same workforce that built the hotels in Dubai. I lived there for 10 years. People get so targeted on one area they can't see the bigger picture."

Stenson added: 

"I am open to sensible discussions on these things. We all have different views right? We are talking about executions. We have that in the US. Do we stop playing there?
"China executes more people than the rest of the world combined. Not once have I been questioned about that when I have played there.
"Yes we acknowledge the overall picture is not perfect [in Saudi] but we believe we have an opportunity to bridge some gaps and influence in different ways."

LIV Golf is backed by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund. Court documents recently confirmed the PIF owned 93 per cent of the breakaway tour whilst paying 100 per cent of its expenses. 

Stenson thinks there is a double-standard and believes the PGA Tour and DP World Tour are motivated by money and not morals. 

He said:

"The investors and owners of this business [LIV] are doing business all over the world, yet we are the ones being held to account in a way others are not. I don't think that's fair."

Other than that topic, one of the biggest criticisms LIV has faced is that of being exhibition golf for ageing stars cashing in on the back nine of their careers. 

Related: The most likely players to join LIV next

Couple that with the huge changes implemented by the established tours, there is an argument - which Phil Mickelson has made repeatedly - that players have been short-changed. 

On the topic of money, Stenson said: 

"In major league baseball there is agreement between players and organisation that so much of revenue goes into prize funds.
"There have been discussions about how that subject has been handled over the years in golf and the PGA Tour in particular. I think it could have been a more balanced set-up.
"And there is no question the PGA Tour has been picking up all the talent from all over the world and keeping it. Other parts of world has seen and felt that."
"Just because you know you are going to get a pay cheque does not mean you are not going to perform. In other sports you are on a contract.
"You get paid whether you play or not. In our sport until now you basically had to perform to get paid."

What do you think of Stenson's comments? Don't hesitate to Tweet us with your thoughts. 

Next page: Garcia slams 'immature' Rory McIlroy