On Tuesday, state Sens. Andrew Zwicker, D-16th District, and Richard Codey, D-27th District, introduced legislation that would prohibit sports organizations bankrolled primarily by sovereign wealth funds from hosting sporting or athletic events in New Jersey.
The measure is aimed at LIV Golf, the upstart golf league backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which has caused a firestorm in the sports world this summer. Its most recent tournament was held last month at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, drawing sharp criticisms and protests from many, including the families of 9/11 victims.
“New Jersey has long been fertile ground for producing top-quality athletes, and for hosting major sporting events known throughout the world. Yet we do not need further recognition or notoriety from hosting competitions that are bankrolled by repressive governments or unsavory actors like Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” said Zwicker. “This legislation will prohibit the Saudi PIF or any other sovereign wealth fund from using New Jersey or its sporting organizations in any shameful ‘sports-washing’ endeavors.”
In addition to alleged Saudi links to the 2018 murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, declassified documents show that 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi citizens.
“No would have believed that after that terrible day that we would be allowing foreign governments to hold events in New Jersey in an attempt to clean up their image after centuries of human rights abuses and connections to terrorists,” said Codey.
Under the legislation, the New Jersey attorney general would have the authority to monitor and ensure compliance with this section by a county, municipality, political subdivision, organization, property owner, and permit or license holder.
“Fans in our host markets have embraced the return of big-time golf to their regions and LIV has loved entertaining them,” LIV Golf told NJBIZ in a statement.