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Golf star, who earned 9-figure deal to join Saudi-backed LIV Golf, says 9/11 families should forgive Saudi Arabia

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Golf star Bryson DeChambeau suggested this week that the families of 9/11 victims should forgive Saudi Arabia.

What is the background?

After the PGA Tour and LIV Golf announced a merger, an organization representing the families of 9/11 victims — 9/11 Families United — blasted the PGA and tour commissioner Jay Monahan.

"[T]he PGA and Monahan appear to have become just more paid Saudi shills, taking billions of dollars to cleanse the Saudi reputation so that Americans and the world will forget how the Kingdom spent their billions of dollars before 9/11 to fund terrorism, spread their vitriolic hatred of Americans, and finance al Qaeda and the murder of our loved ones," said organization chairwoman Terry Strada.

"PGA Tour leaders should be ashamed of their hypocrisy and greed," she added. "Our entire 9/11 community has been betrayed by Commissioner Monahan and the PGA as it appears their concern for our loved ones was merely window-dressing in their quest for money — it was never to honor the great game of golf."

The merger is controversial for several reasons, politically and otherwise.

But the 9/11 families are upset because LIV Golf is backed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia. The fund is controlled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

What did DeChambeau say?

Speaking on CNN, DeChambeau expressed sympathy for the 9/11 families — but suggested now is the time for them to forgive.
"I think we'll never be able to repay the families back for what exactly happened just over 20 years ago. And what happened is definitely horrible," he said. "And I think as time has gone on, 20 years has passed, and we're in a place now, where it's time to start trying to work together to make things better together as a whole.
"I have deep sympathy. I don't know exactly what they are feeling. I can't ever know what they feel," he continued.
"I think as we move forward from that, we've got to look toward the pathway to peace, especially in forgiveness, especially if we're trying to mend the world and make it a better place," he went on to say. "I think this is what they're trying to accomplish, LIV is trying to accomplish, the [Saudi Public Investment Fund] is trying to accomplish. We're all trying to accomplish is a better world for everybody."
CNN anchor Kaitlan Collins pushed back, noting Saudi Arabia's history of human rights abuses and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But DeChambeau defended Saudi Arabia.
"[W]hat I can say is that what they're trying to do, what they're trying to work on, is to be better allies because we are allies with them," he said.

"Look, I'm not going to get into politics of it. I'm not specialized in that," he added. "But what I can say is they are trying to do good for the world and showcase themselves in a light that hasn't been seen in a while. And nobody's perfect. But we're all trying to improve in life."
DeChambeau reportedly received more than $125 million to join LIV Golf last year.
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