In an interview with CNBC, LIV Golf Investments President and COO Atul Khosla said the future of LIV Golf is the difference and the creation of franchises that could one day be sold. The organization is organizing an event this weekend, starting Friday, at the golf club of the namesake of former President Donald Trump here.
“We’re building 12 teams with values of excellence, just like any other sport that we expect to see in the future,” he said. “All of these things are going to happen in golf and they happen in every other sport.”
Khosla says the company came to the conclusion from its first two tournaments in London and Portland, Oregon, that fans love golf as a team sport. He says team merchandise sales were sold out on the first day during tournaments. “The concept of the team has a real resonance with our fans,” he said.
The new golf league is being funded by a private investment fund in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Kingdom Fund has set its sights on the sports sector as another investment piece in its portfolio and invested $2 billion in LIV Golf.
Read more: Eric Trump impresses his potential dad in 2024 with a golf bag on a Saudi tour
LIV spends top dollar to attract golf professionals from the PGA Tour, offering league equity, generous prizes and guaranteed money. So far, she has signed big players like Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau. They’ve also driven golf commentator David Ferti away from the Golf Channel, and reportedly had their sights set on bringing in TNT’s Charles Barkley. (Barkley told the New York Post that he has decided to stay with Turner Sports and not join LIV, according to a story published Friday.)
“We have a longer runway,” Khosla said. “But our investor definitely wants to see returns at the end of the day.”
However, the Saudi support generated some controversy for LIV. Family members of those who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks are protesting against the League. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers that day were from Saudi Arabia, and Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the attacks, was born in the country. US officials concluded that Saudi nationals helped fund the al-Qaeda terrorist group, although investigations did not find that Saudi officials were complicit in the attacks.
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Trump on Thursday defended hosting the event, falsely claiming that “nobody got to the bottom of 9/11.”
The 9/11 justice group protested near the Trump Trail, which is less than 50 miles from Ground Zero in lower Manhattan.
“To see an ex-president pretend he doesn’t know what the Saudis did, or say he doesn’t know the 9/11 story, that’s the worst form. It’s the worst feeling you can have.” The president, Brett Eggelson, for CNBC. He was 15 years old when he lost his father when the Twin Towers collapsed after hijackers crashed passenger planes into them.
Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, sided with the protesters. “I support the 9/11 families’ pursuit of justice and remain committed to holding Saudi Arabia accountable for their actions,” he said in a statement on Friday.
Khosla also defended Lev. He said that Douri is not the only one with ties to Saudi Arabia. “There are about 23 PGA Tour partners today that have ties to the multi-billion dollar business in Saudi Arabia. I don’t tell the PGA Tour that there are no sponsors,” he said.
“It’s an interconnected global economy, so just because a group of golfers took so little money, I don’t think you need to put in all the effort,” he added.