E-sports company ends Saudi partnership after anger gamers

The game studio reports this in a statement on its e-sports site. Riot Games makes League of Legends, one of the largest competitive games in the world.

Neom is to become a futuristic city in Saudi Arabia that “drives human development”. This is done, for example, by using drones freely and using sustainable forms of electricity. In doing so, the country hopes to attract international investors.

The collaboration with Riot Games seemed to be primarily a sponsor deal. The company was funded by the Saudi initiative, after which plans in the city were discussed during streams of e-sports.

Murder of Kashoggi

That led to anger from both players and presenters. The city is partly funded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is suspected of triggering the murder of American journalist Jamal Khashoggi, among others.

The partnership was announced on Twitter, where the game company has a profile photo in support of Pride Week. That also went wrong, because Saudi Arabia is known for its intolerance towards LGBT people.

Straighten quickly

“We think it’s important to recognize when we make mistakes so that we can correct them quickly,” the company now writes in a comment. “After further consideration, while continuing to support our players in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, we have decided to end our partnership with Neom.”

Riot Games is not the only e-sports party to partner with the city: Blast Premier, which organizes shooting games in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, recently said it did the same. That led to the same criticism, which the company has not yet responded to.


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