Golf star Tiger Woods has turned down a £2.5m offer – the largest known golf appearance fee – to play in the European Tour’s inaugural event in Saudi Arabia next year, according to the Daily Telegraph.
Woods has been a regular in events held in Dubai, Turkey and China in the past. But this fee is reported to be the largest sum ever offered to him for an official overseas tournament.
It is unclear if the decision relates to scheduling of the tournament or the controversy surrounding Saudi Arabia off late. The murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the country’s consulate in Istanbul has caused a big international outcry.
Many sports stars off late have refused to visit Saudi Arabia after this controversy. Tennis star Roger Federer turned down an invitation to play a tennis match in Saudi Arabia in December, while WWE star John Cena refused to attend a WWE event in the country earlier this month.
However, golfers like Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed and Paul Casey will be taking part in the upcoming tournament.
Speaking of the tournament, European Tour Chief Executive Keith Pelley recently said, “Saudi International is on our schedule and we’ll continue to monitor just like we would do with every other country.”
“We have heard some of the criticism of the region. Obviously freedom of speech is far more available now based on social media. We’ve listened and we will continue to monitor the situation,” he added.