The partnership between Saudi Arabia’s newest outlandish project of the ‘utopic city’ of Neom and BLAST/RFRSH Entertainment has come to an end roughly two weeks after it was initially announced thanks to public outcry, staff, and teams all applying pressure to BLAST to end their relationship with the nation.
The partnership was offered by Saudi Arabia as the prince is attempting to make a future-leaning progressive city, and they believed esports to be a fantastic means of publicizing the city along with attracting young and professional workers that would reside in the city and bring it international fame.
The idea that young and progressive individuals are typically LGBT or athiest, and that Saudi Arabia continues to uphold a standing order that outlaws those behaviors at the penalty of death, is still seemingly lost on everyone that has been working on the project that has already received an impressive $500 billion dollars.
The BLAST x NEOM deal is an opportunity to educate ourselves so that we no longer work with people who would kill our friends.https://t.co/OY5lnFtcVK
— Frankie (@FrankieWard) August 5, 2020
Regardless of how much money Saudi Arabia may be offering these tournament organizers, it is undeniably blood-money that has been generated due to the systemic oppression and murder of indigenous peoples, and those that oppose the archaic religion that appears to govern many middle-eastern countries.
Many were more than set to begin blacklisting BLAST Premier tourneys in the near future to ensure that they were not participating in the controversial decision. Even watching the events would be directly participating in using the funds from the Saudi Arabian government; an aspect that didn’t sit well with many fans (who are demographically LGBT-friendly).
Been off Twitter for a good while.
Blast x NEOM is a disgrace to the Blast brand, an organisation I know is filled with wonderful, talented & loving individuals.
The idea that this could be "silenced" through ignoring it is not a standard or precedent that should be set either.
— JustHarry (@JustHarryGG) August 5, 2020
The decision from BLAST to finally overturn the deal surprised very many, as it was considered to be too lucrative to step away for the smaller TO; the teams stepping up the pressure with BLAST has divided some, however.
Astralis stated three days ago that they may withdraw from BLAST tourneys in the future due to the sponsorship.
BLAST ends NEOM partnership amid community and team pressure https://t.co/3hMbpUbVal
— HLTVorg (@HLTVorg) August 12, 2020
Some have alleged that this announcement was somehow predetermined from Astralis and they issued the statement as a means to gain favor, as the Danish team has struggled recently in public image after multiple members taking a break from the scene due to high stress and burnout that allegedly stem from ambitious practice schedules.
Regardless, it was the right move to take from the prestigious European team and could have been the final straw that forced RFRSH Entertainment to finally capitulate on the controversial partnership. At the moment, it appears Saudi Arabia has failed to successfully woo any esport organization to help shoulder the burden of turning Neom into a capital of esports.