It's Time To End the Saudi Deal
On November 2nd the WWE will perform its second show in Saudi Arabia of this year as part of the 10-year deal the WWE signed with the Saudi government. Vince McMahon has been part of his fair share of controversies over the years; There’s been the huge steroid scandal that almost brought the WWE down in 1994, what about the tragic death of Owen Hart at Over the Edge in 1999. Also, Chris Benoit's death was another black eye on the E. The partnership with the Saudi government is another big controversy the WWE now has to handle. Last week the death of a journalist named Jamal Khashoggi was killed and there are reports that the Saudi Arabian government was behind the killing.
The death of Jamal Khashoggi grabbed national headlines everywhere. It also put the spotlight on Saudi Arabia. With the news, WWE has been criticized by many and have had Senators suggesting the WWE not go to Saudi Arabia next month at Crown Jewel. WWE wrestlers themselves are not feeling comfortable going there, and with good reason. To see the WWE even make a deal with the Saudi Arabian government. It’s basically making a deal with the devil. Just straight dirty money that the WWE has no business getting their hands on. In 2013 the Freedom house gave the country of Saudi Arabia a rating of 7.0 in terms of political power, freedom and human rights. A 7 rating is the worst rating that can be given. Their treatment of woman is uncivil, Sharia law doesn’t allow women to wear any clothing revealing their skin, and they have a limited amount of interaction with men whom they are not related too. It wasn’t until the 2012 summer Olympics that Saudi Arabia brought female athletes to represent their country. Last year women were actually able to be spectators sitting in stadiums during sporting events with the men, but still being a female athlete is still frowned upon in Saudi Arabia.
It's a lot like being a prisoner with limited freedom compared to most countries in the 21st century. Women in Saudi Arabia are being controlled by men. It’s a life that no woman should live. Despite pushing the woman’s revolution and being equal to their male counterparts, this deal with Saudi Arabia gives female WWE Superstars mixed messages. Females wrestlers are not allowed to compete and won’t be in Saudi Arabia. At the very least the WWE is paying their female athletes despite not being allowed to wrestle, but not being able to show their skills at the show is a shame. There’s a lot of things woman are not allowed to do compared to men in Saudi Arabia and WWE looking like a bunch of hypocrites with this deal.
Saudi Arabia has been severely criticized for the lack of human rights the country displays. With crazy capital punishment of execution, I’m not just talking about a lethal injection from a needle, but extreme ones like beheading, public hanging, stoning, and in some cases crucifying people. Some of the offences committed are not even actually crimes in the western part of the world. People get executed by committing adultery or believing in witchcraft. This is a country that is so far back with its laws. You can’t be gay in Saudi Arabia. Yup, it's 2018 and being homosexual can still get you killed in a lot of countries including Saudi Arabia. Talking bad about your government and the King will get you killed in Saudi. Where is free speech? What kind of backward laws are these? Some wrestlers in the locker room haven’t felt comfortable going to Saudi Arabia because of the country’s poor track record of human rights. It potentially risks their wrestlers, and personnel safety while being over there. Shouldn’t that send a message to the corporate people of WWE and Vince McMahon? Saudi Arabia might have presented themselves as a more people-friendly country but its hiding behind a mask. WWE got suckered in and now they need to put their foot down.
WWE’s deal with Saudi Arabia is reportedly a 10 year $450 million dollars. That’s a lot of money, but the deal with FOX to acquire its Tuesdays show Smackdown is way more money. A 5-year deal with FOX is worth over a billion dollars plus $265 million from NBC to keep RAW on Monday nights. This should make WWE more willingly to back out of the Saudi deal. Both of those deals are record highs for the WWE, money shouldn’t be an issue with the company. So many other big name companies are staying away from Saudi. With the disappearance of Khashoggi, a lot of businesses are pulling out from the Future Investment Initiative conference that is being held in Riyadh later this month. The list includes Viacom, Uber, AOL, and Sir Richard Branson. A lot of more businesses might be pulling out in the coming weeks as well. WWE doesn’t need the money and it shouldn’t be about the money. WWE needs to show it’s fans that the fight for better human rights and equality should trump the almighty dollar and that its moral compass is pointing in the right direction.
At this moment WWE is still monitoring the situation and Crown Jewel is still a go. It’s not too late for the E to back out, but what if they don’t back out? If you’re a wrestling fan would you still support a company that is blinded by money? That the dollar bill is more important than life itself. What about the wrestlers? Can you still wrestle for a company that might not care about human rights? What if you’re a female on the roster or in a corporate position? Would you still bust your ass for a company that says yes for gender equality but flips to the other side? It’s time for WWE to put its stamp on the situation and back out of this deal. It’s the right thing to do!