WWE accused of accepting 'blood money' after approving Saudi Arabia tour amid Khashoggi scandal

WWE accused of accepting 'blood money' after approving Saudi Arabia tour amid Khashoggi scandal
Fans of World Wrestling Entertainment have expressed their disgust at the company's decision to go ahead with its 'Crown Jewel' tour following the murder of a Saudi journalist.
3 min read
28 October, 2018
Fans of WWE have threatened to end their subscriptions and boycott the brand [Getty]

World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has been blasted by fans following its decision to go ahead with an event in Saudi Arabia amid ongoing investigations into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi, a Saudi Washington Post columnist who lived in self-imposed exile, was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. Riyadh's handling of the issue, as well as allegations that the Saudi government was behind the assassination, have led to a significant boycott of the kingdom.

Riyadh admitted that Khashoggi had been killed almost three weeks after he went missing at the diplomatic building. Earlier this week, Saudi prosecutors said the murder was pre-meditated, contradicting an earlier Saudi claim that the journalist was killed during a scuffle.

WWE announced on Thursday that its 'Crown Jewel' event on November 2 would go ahead in Riyadh, despite earlier speculation that the sports entertainment giant was scouting an alternative venue.

"Moving forward with Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia was an incredibly tough decision, given that heinous act," chief branding officer Stephanie McMahon told Sky News.

"But, at the end of the day, it is a business decision and, like a lot of other American companies, we decided that we're going to move forward with the event and deliver Crown Jewel for all of our fans in Saudi Arabia and around the world."

WWE's decision stands in contrast to that of several Western business and government leaders who pulled out of a major Saudi investment conference earlier this week over Khashoggi's murder.

The Future Investment Initiative, which was dubbed the 'Davos of the Desert,' was boycotted by a number of influential figures, including US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, the UK's Trade Secretary Liam Fox and IMF head Christine Lagarde.

Fans took to Twitter to blast WWE's decision, with some threatening to boycott the professional wrestling brand.

"So i didnt want to do this but #Evolution will be the last @WWE show i'll be watching live after the event i will be cutting all ties with wwe. This is in protest for @VinceMcMahon refusal to listen to common sense and accept blood money from Saudi Arabia," wrote one Twitter user.


On Thursday, further lurid details about Khashoggi's killing emerged, with a Turkish driver of the 15-man Saudi hit squad sent to murder Khashoggi saying that the team celebrated and drank alcohol after killing the journalist.

Earlier reports alleged that Khashoggi was murdered and his body dismembered by the team sent to silence the Washington Post columnist, who had criticised Saudi's powerful Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.