Unlike other sports stars, Andy Murray won’t play in Saudi Arabia

Lucrative offers tempting top boxers, golfers and footballers to compete in Saudi Arabia aren’t enough for Andy Murray to put money before morals.

When Murray received offers to travel to Riyadh to play in exhibition matches, the potential to earn millions of dollars was dismissed.

Friday’s revelation came from the three-time Grand Slam winner’s agent in the week the Spanish Football Federation came under fire from human rights campaigners for taking their Super Cup to Saudi Arabia.

Barcelona, ​​Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao have little to say about where the mini-competition takes place. But for Murray, the offers were for exhibition matches beyond the ATP Tour.

“He turned down stuff in Arabia and I don’t think he would play there just because of what happened,” said Matt Gentry, Murray’s agent and co-founder of 77 Sports Management. .

“If he’s firmly convinced of something, he’s at the stage where he’ll happily call it out and he’ll have that debate with people. I don’t think he’s afraid to voice his opinion on that.

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal were scheduled to take part in an exhibition event in Saudi Arabia in 2018 but it was canceled due to the Spaniard’s injury. Roger Federer had already rejected an offer to participate.

Saudi Arabia hosts major sporting events in the kingdom, not just for prestige, but also to distract from human rights abuses and the ongoing pursuit of equal rights for women.

“Exhibition matches, they’ve done a few over the years where they’ve paid exorbitant amounts of money to bring in players, and he just wasn’t interested,” Melbourne’s Gentry said ahead of the Australian Open.

“If you’re a former world No. 1 player in the Middle East, you could potentially win $1 million, $2 million for an exhibition game…it’s for the best players, the big names in the world, and I think golf is probably quite similar in that regard.

The Asian Tour in men’s golf will host Saudi International near Jeddah next month with $5 million in prize money. The title sponsor is the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, PIF, which is overseen by Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.

Planes belonging to a PIF company were allegedly used by the suspected Saudi assassination team that traveled to Istanbul in 2018 to assassinate US-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s consulate. US intelligence said they believe the murder was carried out on the crown prince’s orders, which the Saudis deny.

This week Bryson DeChambeau and Shane Lowry were asked by the media about traveling to Saudi Arabia and dismissed concerns that they were part of the country’s sports wash saying they were not politicians.

Former Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton said he had concerns about racing in Saudi Arabia last month and did so only because it was a decision made by motorsport executives.

Boxers like Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr. had the choice of fighting in Saudi Arabia themselves and did so in 2019 despite criticism from Amnesty International.


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