Does the Money Come First?

Photo Cred: The Sporting News

Money is an essential aspect of our lives. We need it to make a living for ourselves and our families. Everyone wants to get paid what they are worth. This is especially true for athletes, who are risking their bodies. However, is it so important to one’s life that one would potentially risk their career and reputation to pursue it? LIV Golf is the latest upstart league threatening the sanctity of a particular sport. It will function as a competing golf tour to rival the PGA Tour. This is just one of the many proposed leagues/tournaments in history that would have adversely affected the livelihoods of numerous players and clubs. It looks like it is about to successfully hold a black cloud over golf in the coming years.

LIV Golf 

LIV Golf started in 2020 by the name of the “Super Golf League” and became LIV Golf Investments in 2021. Golf Saudi funds LIV Golf, part of the Public Investment Fund, and named former golfer Greg Norman as its CEO. There was a similar effort by Andy Gardiner of the Premier Golf League to create a rival for the PGA Tour, and he also went to Saudi investors for funding without any luck. This tournament looks like a copycat of Gardiner’s idea. It looks to be successful in its ventures of luring away top golfers by offering life-changing sums of money that not even the top players would expect to get at PGA tours. For example, Dustin Johnson was paid $150M to commit to the series while his career earnings were around $74M. Chase KoepkaBrooks’ brother, had earned around $315,000 in PGA events, and he was about to get paid $150,000 for coming in 33rd place in LIV Golf’s inaugural event. Now, while this is a large amount of cash heading their way, it should be noted that golf is already a very lucrative sport. Professional golfers are among the highest-paid athletes in the world. 

Photo Cred: Wikipedia                                       Photo Cred: Global Golf Post

Joining a league like Gardiner’s may have had the same consequences, as PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan did say that those participating in a breakaway league like this would’ve become ineligible to play in PGA events. There wouldn’t be the downside of being associated with the Saudi Arabian government, which is not known for its human rights, and being involved with the controversy of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s assassination. This whole league is touted as a way the Saudis are “sports washing” the world, with the families of those who were involved in 9/11 being hit especially hard by the decisions of the golfers. Those participating in the LIV Golf tournaments have been suspended indefinitely and are no longer eligible to compete in tour events or the Presidents Cup.

Photo Cred: Golf Digest

Other Sports


While the main focus of the article was LIV Golf, there have been other attempts in other sports worldwide that didn’t get a chance to be as successful. The latest controversy was the European Super League (ESL) in soccer, a potential rival to the UEFA Champions League that was supposed to be contested by the “best clubs and players each week”. Only high-ranking teams of a few select European leagues would be able to participate, which means more money generated for the rich. One of the reasons it didn’t become successful was the fan and player outrage of the six English clubs involved, which forced them to withdraw from the league and caused the remaining members to suspend their operations soon after.

Photo Cred: Breaking the Lines

Staying with the soccer theme, the most recent of the remaining soccer competitions was the ASEAN Super League in 2017. This was meant to be run between domestic teams in the ASEAN Football Federation (an organization within the Asian Football Confederation). From 1949-54, there was a period of time in Colombian football called El Dorado, where Colombia’s football league had broken away from FIFA and the national team, and all clubs were banned from international competition due to this. Due to the Pacto de LimaDIMAYOR (the organization that operates and organizes Colombian football leagues and tournaments) had agreed to return back to FIFA.

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During those El Dorado years, the Campeonato Professional (known as Categoria Primera A since 1968) saw clubs be able to get any player they like due to not having to pay transfer fees and having well-paid foreigners. They were not affiliated with FIFA, so they were able to do so. Players such as Hector RialAlfredo di Stefano, and Ramon Villaverde, who all went on to dominate European soccer later, were part of Colombian league football that was once the best in the world. In 1921-22, Italian soccer saw the creation of the Prima Division and the CCI to break away from the FIGC Italian Football Championship. While this separation only lasted a year, it was organized by the richest clubs in the country (JuventusAC MilanInter Milan, etc.)

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The most prominent of these remaining leagues is one we all know and watch: the English Premier League. Until 1992, the English Football League (EFL) had been the top football league in England, but there was some talk in the 1990s about a creation of a breakaway league initiated by the managing director of London Weekend TelevisionGreg Dyke. Having larger clubs featured on TV (such as the big five of ArsenalEvertonLiverpoolManchester United, and Tottenham) and them being able to have a large share of the television rights money were the primary reasons for the creation of this now popular league, which had 22 inaugural members.

Photo Cred: Wikipedia 

It ran as a private company separate from the Football League. This caused the EFL to go from four divisions to three (EFL ChampionshipEFL League OneEFL League Two). In 2020, another related money-related move within the Premier League was stopped, something that was supported by the EFL but not by the rest of the Premier League teams: Project Big Picture. It looked like yet another way for the top teams in the league to make a profit for themselves in the disguise of helping out another league.



Now, we get into the rest of the sports in the world. The Grand Prix World Championship was designed in 2001 to be a rival of/replacement for Formula One in auto racing. The major reasons for disagreement were: a perceived bias of specific larger and better-funded manufacturers by the FISA, the commercial aspects of the sport, and another short-lived attempt at a series called the “World Federation of Motosport” created by the other organization that was a part of the disagreement (FOCA). The Concorde Agreement was created to bring a resolution to the issues.

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A league that was successfully able to take down the league it had broken away from was the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC), which was created in 1992. As there was a feeling that not much was done with sponsorship and television coverage of the sport, 16 professional players broke away from the British Darts Organization (BDO) and created a league of their own, initially called the World Darts Council (WDC). As of 2020, the BDO no longer exists, as it went into liquidation. They faced issues with defections of players to the PDC, as well as financial issues and a reduction in prize money. The World Darts Federation (WDF) is the only other governing body that runs any darts competitions now, of which the BDO was a part of. They have a separate rankings system from the PDC.

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In rugby, a whole new league was created to resolve the issues of the Super League war in the 1990s, where two leagues were fighting to be the top competition in Australia and New Zealand. The National Rugby League (NRL) was the union of the Australian Rugby League (ARL) and the Australia Super League, created due to the two leagues fighting for broadcast rights and supremacy of the sport.

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Finally, we have the last two leagues and a series of tours to talk about, all in the same sport: cricket. The earliest of these was World Series Cricket, created by Kerry Packer from 1977-79 (who was also involved with the ARL), as the result of a TV-rights dispute. He wanted to show the world that cricket was a marketable sport and that its commercial potential was not being properly utilized. At the same time, players were not getting paid their market value and could not make a proper living from the sport. So a lucrative series like this would properly compensate for their play.

Photo Cred: Amazon

From 1982-90, South Africa was banned from playing international cricket due to apartheid going on in their country, but that didn’t stop them from tempting other countries to come to play cricket there. These tours were subsequently called rebel tours, where players from other countries were risking their own international careers just for payment (the South African Cricket Union paid substantial sums of money to the players of the touring countries to make it worth their time). At a time when Twenty20 cricket was just a fledgling format of the game, not reaching its full popularity until 2007 due to the T20 World CupZee Entertainment Enterprises wanted to create a T20 league in India. From 2007-09, the Indian Cricket League (ICL) was able to have three separate competitions in the format, one among just the Indian franchises (the Indian Championship), one that added two more franchises (the Global Championship), and another among a group of players representing either the Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi or World/Rest of the World player contingents (the ICL World Series).

Photo Cred: CNN

However, this tournament did not have the backing of the BCCI, who created their own Indian Premier League (IPL), which is arguably the best, most popular cricket league in the entire world nowadays. The BCCI then threatened to exclude ‘rebel’ participants from the national team, and the ICC had decided to not recognize the league officially unless the BCCI did. Since the league was not an official, recognized league, it started losing players, who were said to be risking their careers or facing bans. The BCCI later had an amnesty clause to forgive those who participated in the league by letting them back into the Indian national and domestic sides, which doomed the ICL.

Photo Cred: IMBd

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