After much controversy and several manifestations of casters, employees and players of League of Legends, Riot Games, developer of the game, decided to end a partnership it had entered into with the futuristic city of Saudi Arabia known as NEOM. The announcement, made through an official statement, came just a day after the deal was closed with the Saudis.
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This partnership consisted of publicizing the city project, which has an estimated budget of around US $ 500 billion, during the European League of Legends Championship (LEC). The expectation was that, with the agreement, NEOM would be the main partner of the event, which is already underway. With the criticisms, especially regarding the human rights violations that are known to be committed in Saudi territory, the company chose to cancel the agreement.
Throughout Tuesday (28), Riot Games employees, League of Legends players and eSports fans have spoken out against the partnership on social media, citing the weak record of human rights violations in Saudi Arabia, as well as the “ forced eviction ”of the Huwaitat, a tribe that lived in the region where NEOM is being built. The city, by the way, is a personal project of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who, among other things, would have ordered the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
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An important update on #LEC NEOM partnership: https: //t.co/aoH7QpziIT
– LEC (@LEC) July 30, 2020
See the full Riot Games press release below:
"As a company and as a league, we know it is important to recognize when we make mistakes and work quickly to correct them. After further reflection, while remaining firmly committed to all of our players and fans around the world – including those who live in the Saudi Arabia and the Middle East – LEC immediately ended its partnership with NEOM In an effort to expand our eSports ecosystem, we moved very quickly to consolidate that partnership and hurt the very community we are looking to grow in. Although we have lost our own expectations in this case, we are committed to reexamining our internal structures to ensure that this does not happen again ".