Greg Norman's comments on Saudi Arabia 'wrong and seriously misguided' - Amnesty International

Greg Norman
Australian Norman, a two-time winner of The Open, is LIV Golf's chief executive

Golf great Greg Norman's description of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi as a "mistake" is "wrong and seriously misguided", says Amnesty International.

Norman said "we've all made mistakes" when asked about Saudi Arabia's human rights record while promoting the new Saudi-funded LIV Golf series.

The US believes Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of Khashoggi in 2018 - which he denies.

Amnesty said Saudi Arabia was using LIV Golf to clean its "blood-soaked image".

"The regime's human rights record is an abomination - from its murder of Khashoggi to recent mass executions and the situation for LGBTI+ people, which continues to be dire," the human rights organisation said.

"Greg Norman's remarks that the Saudi government's brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi and its attempted cover-up were a 'mistake' are wrong and seriously misguided.

"Far from trying to 'move on', the Saudi authorities have attempted to sweep their crimes under the carpet, avoiding justice and accountability at every turn."

Journalist Khashoggi, a critic of Bin Salman, was killed while visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

In Saudi, being LGBT is punishable with floggings and prison, while earlier this year Saudi Arabia said it executed 81 men in one day.

Bin Salman is chairman of the Saudi's Public Investment Fund (PIF) that provides the money for many sporting events, including LIV Golf, Formula 1, boxing and football. It provided 80% of the funds for Newcastle United's takeover last year.

Norman, who won two Open Championships and spent more than 300 weeks as world number one in the 1980s and 90s, is LIV Golf's chief executive.

When discussing the country's human rights record on Wednesday, the 67-year-old said: "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."

Hatice Cengiz, who was Khashoggi's fiancee, has also criticised Norman's comments.

Norman told BBC Sport on Tuesday he had secured an extra $2bn from PIF that would allow his LIV Golf plans to stretch for "decades".

"The LIV Golf Invitational Series is yet one more event in a series of sports-washing exercises that the Saudi authorities are using to clean its blood-soaked image," Amnesty added.

"Everyone involved in any of the sports events held there, or that are sponsored by Saudi Arabia, must be aware of what is going on in the Kingdom and speak out about the government's brazen abuses."

The first of eight LIV Golf events will take place at Centurion Club, near London, in June.

Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood are among the players who sought permission from the PGA Tour to play, but those requests have been blocked.

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