The eSports organization had teamed up with a Saudi Arabian entity and immediately ran into problems
A controversial new partnership between the League of Legends European Championship (LEC) and a Saudi Arabian state-sponsored city development, NEOM, was canceled shortly after it was announced.
This took place on Wednesday after the eSports organization announced the new partnership, which caused a lot of rage coming from commentators and staff members who disagree with this new collaboration deal. The main problem revolves around the Saudi Arabian culture towards the LGBTQ community and the heavy punishments that the country places on people who break the law – being gay or transgender is illegal in the country.
According to Muslim Sharia Law, besides having different sexual preferences being illegal, there is also no recognition of same-sex marriages. Breaking the law can end with punishments like fines, public whippings, castrations and various forms of imprisonment, according to a report from the BBC. These standards don’t match the ones that the LEC has been sharing for the past few weeks, which has exhibited Pride flag-themed graphics on their broadcast.
Therefore, LEC was quick in stepping back from this deal, “As a company and as a league, we know that it’s important to recognize when we make mistakes and quickly work to correct them,” said Alberto Guerrero, director of eSports EMEA at Riot Games in a statement. “After further reflection, while we remain steadfastly committed to all of our players and fans worldwide including those living in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, the LEC has ended its partnership with NEOM, effective immediately.”
Part of the reason that many members reacted this way was that this partnership was informed last-minute. Commentators like Indiana “Froskurinn” Black, who is gay, was among the first ones to lash out LEC due to this decision.