Update: Riot has cancelled the deal with Neom amidst the backlash against their decision.
After numerous broadcast talents and personalities within the LoL community heavily criticized the new sponsor as hypocritical, Riot has backpedaled on the decision.
— LEC (@LEC) July 30, 2020
In their statement they said, that they “missed (their( own expectiations in this instance” and “moved too quickly”. With the cancellation of the deal Riot reacts to the backlash and promises to “reexamine (their) internal structures to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”
Original article from July 29:
While the European League of Legends top flight LEC currently celebrates Pride Week, the league finalizes a deal with a Saudi Arabian sponsor.
The LoL community is in uproar. The LEC is currently hosting its own Pride Week, supporting the LGBT+ community. Among other actions the league showed a rainbow-colored logo.
But these ring hollow for several casters and players as the LEC also just announced a deal with new sponsor Neom.
This is disappointing because this is the LEC. It’s my team, my product, my managers, my office.
My family. My home.
This isn’t someone far away in HQ that I don’t know. This is devastating because I know who made these choices and I feel silenced.
— Froskurinn (@Froskurinn) July 29, 2020
Why is Neom problematic?
Neom is a Saudi-Arabian project wanting to build a futuristic city for roughly $500 million. Most of the money is directly contributed by the Saudi government.
The country on the Arabian peninsula has several values and laws that are in direct contradiction to the LEC’s values. Especially in terms of LGBT+ rights Saudi Arabia is infamous for being a country that still outlaws homosexuality.
On Twitter many casters have now accused the LEC management of hypocrisy.
Incredibly sad to see the league perceived and branded as the most “progressive” in our scene double back on the standards it set. #LEC
— Munch (@HeyMunchables) July 29, 2020