DP World Tour Players Arbitrate LIV Golf Dispute.

            On February 10th, thirteen golfers who had participated in both the DP World Tour and LIV Golf events completed a five day arbitration hearing. The outcome of this hearing will determine the extent to which the DP World Tour can enforce regulations on its players. This dispute began in the summer of 2022, and it now appears a resolution is in sight.

            The DP World Tour used to be named the European Tour, until sponsorship agreements led to re-branding.[1] “DP World” is a Dubai based logistics firm, which took over all branding from the formerly European Tour in 2022 for an undisclosed amount. LIV Golf is a new league which is backed by the Saudi Arabia sovereign wealth fund, and features a different format from traditional golf tournaments. As opposed to the four-day format that is typically used, LIV events only have three days of play. Additionally, there are no “cuts” in LIV events, meaning every participant who tees off on day one will finish on day three.[2]

            LIV has faced criticism from all over the golf world, with detractors pointing out issues with both Saudi Arabia’s human rights history, and the potential negative incentives the format creates for players.[3] [4]Issues between LIV Golf and the DP World Tour began in June 2022. The DP World Tour attempted to suspend any player who had participated in LIV events from playing in the 2022 Genesis Scottish Open.[5] Additionally, they fined these players the equivalent of $125,000. In response, three players sought a stay of the sanctions imposed by the DP Tour from a British court. The players were granted the stay, and were able to compete in the Scottish Open. [6]

The order from the British court allowed thirteen golfers to compete in DP World Tour events despite having played in LIV Golf events, pending arbitration. Prior to this dispute, the DP World Tour had a release system in place that allowed its players to compete in outside tournaments.[7] Players had previously been granted releases to play for other tours, such as the PGA Tour, but this changed with the creation of LIV Golf. DP is relying on precedent of having not granted releases in the past, while the players are arguing they should be allowed to play in different tournaments without restriction.

            The arbitration panel consisted of three members, and was held at the Sport Resolution Centre in London. The panel is focused on the specific issue of the degree to which the DP World Tour is able to enforce its internal regulations. There is no timetable in place for the release of a decision made by the arbitrators.[8] However, even without a definable date, the result of this arbitration will strike a first blow in the legal disputes with the new LIV Golf league.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2021/nov/09/new-era-global-golf-european-tour-renamed-dp-world-tour


[3] https://www.state.gov/reports/2021-country-reports-on-human-rights-practices/saudi-arabia/

[4] https://www.forbes.com/sites/dereksaul/2022/07/12/tiger-woods-rips-into-liv-golf-i-just-dont-understand-it/?sh=2dec73152b69

[5] https://www.si.com/golf/news/dp-world-tour-prohibits-liv-golf-participants-from-playing-scottish-open        

[6] https://www.si.com/golf/news/ian-poulter-among-three-liv-golfers-winning-court-decision-to-play-in-scottish-open

[7] https://www.si.com/golf/news/upcoming-hearing-future-dp-world-tour-fields

[8] https://irishgolfer.ie/latest-golf-news/2023/02/10/with-arbitration-panel-hearing-ending-today-dp-world-tour-hasnt-considered-losing/

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