Adidas boss says LIV Golf is a ‘normal evolution’, wants to focus on partnerships with players

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Phil Mickelson of USA at the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational at the Centurion Club, Hemel Hempstead, St Albans, UK, June 8, 2022

Paul Childs | Action images via Reuters

Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted believes the controversial Saudi-backed LIV Golf series is part of a “normal evolution” of the sport and said the German sportswear giant will continue to focus on partnerships with individual players.

The PGA Tour has suspended many of its big names for participating in the breakaway competition, which is in its inaugural season and has created friction in the golf world after attracting players with huge fees.

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LIV is funded by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, and critics accuse the series of improving the image of the kingdom, despite lingering concerns about human rights violations and possible links to 9/11 plotters.

The PGA Tour is now facing an antitrust lawsuit against 11 players who joined the LIV series, including Phil Mickelson and Ian Poulter, for their suspension from the traditional North American tour.

Golf legend and 15-time major champion Tiger Woods turned down a $700 million to $800 million offer to join LIV Golf, the CEO revealed Monday, after expressing his disapproval of the series at the Open Championship of the United States. last month.

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Speaking to TBEN’s “Squawk Box Europe” on Thursday after Adidas’ quarterly report, Rorsted said no decision had yet been made on whether the company would sponsor a team in the LIV series.

Asked about his thoughts on the Rebel tour, he said: “We think it’s a normal evolution that’s going on, and in the end it’s the bodies that have to decide what to do. We have the same conversation when you look at the Champions League of the World Cup with UEFA or FIFA.”

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Rorsted added that Adidas “wants to remain a sponsor of the individual”.

“We have a very strong stance on the players and essentially we want to make sure we’re working with the best player – we think it’s that easy.”

Adidas on Thursday reported a 28% year-over-year decline in second-quarter operating profit as a business suspension in Russia, higher supply chain costs and Covid-19 lockdowns in China dent profits despite continued strength in North America .

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