European tour players warned after Saudi Arabia event announced

European tour players warned after Saudi Arabia event announced

European Tour players have been warned that recent reforms in Saudi Arabia are "largely a mirage".

The Tour announced on Thursday - which was International Women's Day - that it will stage an event in Saudi Arabia for the first time in 2019.

In October last year it was announced that Saudi Arabia would allow women into sports stadiums from 2018 in the conservative kingdom's latest step towards easing gender segregation rules.

But they will be seated in a so-called family section, an area separate from the male-only crowd.

And Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK's Director, told Press Association Sport: "Players on the European Tour ought to be aware that Saudi Arabia's much-hyped 'reforms' in Saudi Arabia are largely a mirage.

"Peaceful critics of the Saudi government are being thrown into prison at a faster rate than ever, joining existing prisoners of conscience like the blogger Raif Badawi.

"And despite the promised lifting of the driving ban this year, women are still kept firmly in the backseat in virtually every aspect of life in Saudi Arabia - required to have permission from a male guardian to get a job, to enrol in higher education, to travel or to marry.

"We're not saying that players on the European Tour should boycott Saudi Arabia - but they certainly go with their eyes wide open."

Prize money and the title of the event have yet to be released, but it will form part of the Tour's "Desert Swing" for the next three years and take place from January 31 to February 3 at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC).

- PA

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