Recently the Danish tournament company BLAST ended its partnership with Saudi Arabia based futuristic business zone NEOM. Those who follow CS: GO on a regular basis have surely heard that Moses, a popular caster for BLAST criticized the company for their partnership with NEOM. The deal would “help build a first-in-class partnership that will allow NEOM to create a thriving esports ecosystem”. It aimed at making NEOM a hub for eSports in the Middle East. Moreover, it was a record deal for the Danish company. The company faced a lot of backlash when they announced their partnership and they have finally decided to back out from the deal.
Further reading: CS: GO Caster Moses Strikes at BLAST for Recent Partnership
The Saudi Arabian State backs this business zone. The backlash BLAST received was due to the hatred against NEOM. The company had forced the eviction of the Huwaitat tribe who used to live in the North-Western part of the country, where the NEOM zone is. Furthermore, the outrage regarding this issue also arose from the fact that the Saudi Arabian state does not respect LGBTQ rights.
BLAST is the second eSports org to end its ties with NEOM in a span of two weeks. The League of Legends European Championship had backed out of a deal with this company as well, within some hours. The reason is simple: Neom is associated with the violation of Human Rights in the country. A human rights activist and member of the Huwaitat tribe currently based in London had commented to The Guardian that NEOM is “being built on our blood”.
Many figures have been silent on this issue. But then, there have also been many in the eSports scene who have been vocal about this. Astralis CEO Anders Hørsholt commented that he found the whole deal “unacceptable”. Violation of human rights is a heinous offence and we believe BLAST made a good decision backing out from the deal.