UFC parent company severs ties with Saudi Arabia
Endeavor, the parent company that owns the UFC, has severed ties with Saudi Arabia in protest of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Six months removed from the scandalous reports that Saudi Arabia murdered and dismembered a journalist in the Saudi consulate in Turkey, the UFC’s parent company, Endeavor, has severed ties with the kingdom.
According to The New York Times, Endeavour returned a $400 million investment to Saudi Arabia, effectively putting an end to the talent agency’s relationship with the kingdom. The decision was reportedly taken by CEO Ari Emanuel, who canvased other investors to help fill the gap left behind when Endeavour returned the investment to Saudi Arabia. The New York Times also added that Emanuel began traveling with a bodyguard due to being concerned about the Saudi monarchy’s reaction.
Khashoggi, a Saudi national with permanent resident status in the U.S., lived in Virginia and worked as a columnist for the Washington Post. He was a prominent critic of Saudi crown prince Mohamed bin Salman (known as MBS) and regime’s brutal oppression of basic human rights, which likely made him a government target.
While in Turkey to visit his fiancee, Khashoggi stepped into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2nd but never emerged. Turkish intelligence services and state media revealed suspicions that Khashoggi was murdered and dismembered with a bone saw inside the building by a group of 15 assassins flown in from Saudi.
Khashoggi’s disappearance and potential assassination have raised significant concern from the international community. Germany, France and the United Kingdom have jointly called for a “credible investigation” while Canada’s foreign minister has also voiced concern by stating that she was “very troubled” by the ongoing case. United States Vice President Mike Pence promised to “get to the bottom” of Khashoggi’s disappearance. However, U.S. President Donald Trump touted Saudi Arabia’s denial of involvement on Monday, theorizing it could potentially have been “rogue killers.”
While Emanuel had helped throw a lavish Hollywood party for Mohammed bin Salman during his visit to the United States, he was also one of the first to publicly comment on Khashoggi’s murder when reports emerged. Endeavor’s extrication from the deal comes shortly after CEO Ari Emanuel revealed he was “concerned” by the reports that the Saudi government had allegedly tortured, assassinated, and dismembered Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
”I personally am really concerned about it,” Emanuel said during a keynote session at the annual MIPCOM conference in Cannes. “We’re monitoring the situation and that’s legally all I can say right now. It’s very, very concerning, really concerning. It’s upsetting.”
It should be noted that Endeavour is one of the few major companies that has followed through with its decision to sever ties with Saudi Arabia in protest of the kingdom’s decision to assassinate a journalist.
Endeavor purchased the UFC in 2017 for $4 billion, which remains the most expensive transaction for a company in sports history.