LIV Golf trio Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Phil Mickelson have all been ‘urged to help save the life of a man’ on death row in Saudi Arabia. The three LIV stars have reportedly been contacted in regard to the case surrounding 20-year-old Abdullah al-Howaiti, who was forced to confess to a murder at 14 after being tortured.
As a result, the three players have been asked by the activist group Reprieve to use their platforms to raise awareness of the case ahead of this week’s LIV Golf event in Jeddah, reports the Mail. The breakaway circuit has been branded as sportswashing following its hefty financial backing from Saudi Arabia.
In a statement Reprieve director Maya Foa said: “Abdullah al-Howaiti was arrested when he was just 14 years old and sentenced to death when he was 17. He remains on death row and if the Saudi Supreme Court upholds his conviction he will be at immediate risk of execution. Golfers in Jeddah for this weekend’s tournament have an opportunity to raise Abdullah’s case, knowing the world will hear.
All we are asking Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Phil Mickelson to do is say his name. Just by doing so they could save his life. Lewis Hamilton has shown elite athletes can raise human rights concerns while competing in Saudi Arabia.
“If the LIV tour is to be a positive force for change in Saudi Arabia, British golfers must follow his example. Speaking up for Abdullah al-Howaiti would be a start.” The Middle Eastern state has been known for its poor human rights record for some time, with the 20-year-old the latest example.
Alluding to this and slamming the LIV Golf Series as sportswashing, along with a number of other sporting events Foa said: “In March, Saudi Arabia executed 81 people on a single day, half of them convicted of attending protests, but Mohammed bin Salman would much rather we talk about the golf.
“This is what sportswashing does: distract from grave human rights abuses and project a false image of a country where the death penalty is routinely used to suppress dissent. The Saudi regime’s massive investment in sports, from the Public Investment Fund’s purchase of Newcastle United to hosting boxing matches and Formula One, in addition to the LIV tour, has coincided with a capital punishment crisis in the kingdom. More people were executed in the first six months of 2022 than in the previous two years combined.” Read the full story in The Mirror.