Former world No.1 Greg Norman is under fire after telling reporters “we’ve all made mistakes” when discussing Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and the murder of a Washington Post journalist.
At a press conference to discuss the upcoming launch of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf tour, which he fronts, Norman was asked about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, and the 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey.
The United States government claims Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered Khashoggi’s killing, an allegation Bin Salman has denied, although he said he took “full responsibility” as the country’s leader, “since it was committed by individuals working for the Saudi government”.
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When questioned about the murder of Khashoggi, Norman replied: “Everybody has owned up to it, right? It has been spoken about, from what I’ve read, going on what you guys reported. Take ownership, no matter what it is.
“Look, we’ve all made mistakes and you just want to learn from those mistakes and how you can correct them going forward.”
New York Post writer Brian Wacker said that comment showed Norman was “becoming more reprehensible by the day” while Golfweek columnist Eamon Lynch added, “Just when you thought Greg Norman’s shilling for murderers couldn’t get any more contemptible.”
Golf Digest reports that when Norman was asked about Saudi Arabia’s discrimination against the LGBTQ community, he replied, “I’m not sure whether I even have any gay friends, to be honest with you.”
Norman said any player who joins the LIV tour won’t be prevented from speaking out about human rights issues.
“Every player is entitled to their opinion and their voice,” he said.
“This whole thing about Saudi Arabia and Khashoggi and human rights, talk about it, but also talk about the good the country is doing to change its culture.
“There are not many countries that can stand up and be proud of that. They can’t be proud of their past – there are a lot of countries in this world that have a cross to bear too – but they are looking after the younger generation.”
Norman’s comments come a day after the PGA Tour announced it would deny a release for any of its players to compete in the LIV Tour’s first event, to be held near London next month.
That move is likely to place the powerful PGA Tour on a collision course with a number of players, with court action possible.
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