Andy Murray has turned down offers of up to £1.5million to play in Saudi Arabia over human rights concerns as the tennis star’s rep insists he won’t is not interested in the “tempting sums of money” offered by the Gulf State
- Andy Murray rejected big offers to play tennis matches in Saudi Arabia
- Councilor Matt Gentry said human rights concerns influenced Murray’s decision
- “I don’t think he’ll play there just because of what happened,” Gentry said.
- Saudi Arabia has recently hosted football, Formula 1, boxing and golf events
Andy Murray has rejected the chance to play lucrative exhibition matches in Saudi Arabia due to concerns over human rights in the Gulf state.
Organizers have offered tennis stars including Murray up to £1.5m to play in Saudi Arabia, which has stepped up its pursuit of top sporting events in recent years.
However, the events have been heavily criticized by groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, for attempting to clean up the nation’s reputation on the international stage, a practice described as “sportswashing”.
Homosexuality is illegal in Saudi Arabia while women’s rights also lag behind. Human Rights Watch also released a report last week on Saudi Arabia’s crackdown on criticism.
Journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who had frequently criticized the state’s royal family, was brutally murdered at the Saudi Arabian embassy in Istanbul in 2018. The Biden administration released a declassified report last year. intelligence agencies concluding that Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman had “approved” of the operation.
Andy Murray has turned down the chance to win up to £1.5million to play in Saudi Arabia
Real Madrid’s recent clash with Barcelona is one of many sporting events held in Saudi Arabia
Murray has long been an advocate for gay rights and women’s rights and his representative Matt Gentry says the Scot has no interest in playing in Saudi Arabia because of the country’s human rights record .
“He refused stuff in Arabia; I don’t think he’ll play there just because of what happened,’ Gentry told the podcast. Sports Unlocked.
“If he is very attached to something, he will call it with pleasure. He is not afraid to express his opinion.
“They did a few exhibition matches where they paid exorbitant amounts of money to bring players there and he just wasn’t interested.”
“To show up and play a game, if you’re a former world No. 1 player, in the Middle East, you could potentially make $1-2 million.
Murray has shown support for gay rights and has been a strong advocate for the women’s game
‘I don’t think he’ll play there just because of what happened,’ Murray’s rep says
“It’s for the top players, the big names in the world, and I think golf is pretty similar.”
Murray made his first ATP Tour final in over two years on Saturday after reaching the Sydney Tennis Classic showpiece, but the Scot was beaten in straight sets by Aslan Karatsev.
Saudi Arabia staged its first-ever Formula 1 Grand Prix in December and has also hosted tennis, golf and boxing events, including Anthony Joshua’s rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr in 2019.
The Spanish Super Cup involving Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid is currently taking place in the nation’s capital, Riyadh, while Barcelona faced Boca Juniors in a recent friendly last month.
Human rights groups criticized the Saudi state takeover of Newcastle United last year
Amnesty has urged players taking part in the Super Cup to use their platform to show their support for social causes in Saudi Arabia, although the tournament has so far passed without any notable protests from players.
Athletic Bilbao striker Raul Garcia was the only one to criticize the competition moving from Spain to Saudi Arabia, although he only expressed concerns about the competition being moved away from his home traditional and did not mention the Gulf State’s human rights record.
Human rights groups have also criticized the takeover of Newcastle United by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.