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 representative insists he is not interested in ‘stunning sums of money’ being offered by the Gulf state
- Andy Murray has turned down offers for big money to play tennis matches in Saudi Arabia
- Adviser Matt Gentry said human rights concerns influenced Murray’s decision
- “I don’t think he will play there just because of what happened,” Gentry said
- Saudi Arabia has recently hosted football, Formula 1, boxing and golf events
Andy Murray turned down the chance to play money-grubbing exhibition matches in Saudi Arabia over human rights concerns in the Gulf state.
Organizers have offered tennis stars, including Murray, up to £1.5million to play in Saudi Arabia, which has ramped up its pursuit of top sporting events in recent years.
However, the events have been harshly criticized by groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for attempting to cleanse the country’s reputation on the international stage, a practice described as “sport-washing.”
Homosexuality is illegal in Saudi Arabia, while women’s rights are also lagging behind. Human Rights Watch also released a report last week on Saudi Arabia’s repression of critics.
Journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who had often criticized the state’s royal family, was brutally murdered in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul in 2018. The Biden administration released a declassified report by US intelligence last year that concluded that Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman “approved” the operation.
Andy Murray has turned down the chance to make up to £1.5million to play in Saudi Arabia
Real Madrid’s recent clash with Barcelona is one of the many sporting events held in Saudi Arabia
Murray has long been a supporter of gay and women’s rights and his representative Matt Gentry said the Scot had no interest in playing in Saudi Arabia due to the country’s human rights record.
“He has turned things down in Saudi Arabia; I don’t think he’ll be playing there just because of what happened,” Gentry told the podcast Sports Unlocked.
“When he feels strongly about something, he likes to shout it out. He is not afraid to speak his mind.
“They’ve played a few practice matches where they paid eye-watering sums of money to get players there and he just wasn’t interested.
“If you show up and play a game, if you’re a former number 1 player in the world, you could potentially make $1 million to $2 million in the Middle East.
Murray has expressed his support for gay rights and is a strong supporter of the women’s game
“I don’t think he will play there just because of what happened,” Murray’s representative said
“That’s for the top players, the big world names, and I think golf is quite similar.”
Murray played his first ATP tour final in more than two years on Saturday after reaching the showpiece of the Sydney Tennis Classic, but the Scotsman was defeated in two sets by Aslan Karatsev.
Saudi Arabia held its first-ever Grand Prix race in December, while also hosting tennis, golf and boxing events, including Anthony Joshua’s re-match with Andy Ruiz Jr in 2019.
The Spanish Super Cup with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid is currently being held in the country’s capital, Riyadh, while Barcelona played in a recent friendly against Boca Juniors last month.
Human rights groups criticized the Saudi state’s takeover of Newcastle United last year
Amnesty urged players participating in the Super Cup to use their platform to show their support for social causes in Saudi Arabia, though the tournament has so far gone without significant player protests.
Athletic Bilbao’s Raul Garcia has been a lone voice in his criticism of moving the league from Spain to Saudi Arabia, though he only expressed concerns about moving the league away from its traditional home and made no mention of its track record. in the field of human rights.
Human rights groups have also criticized the Saudi Public Investment Fund’s acquisition of Newcastle United.