Sports | August 4, 2022 1:19 pm

Amid Controversy, Adidas Still Open to Partnerships With LIV Golf Defectors

CEO Kasper Rorsted called the Saudi-backed series part of the "normal evolution" of golf

The stage at the LIV Golf Invitational - Bedminster at Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey.
Adidas is still open to doing business with players on the LIV Golf Series.
Charles Laberge/LIV Golf via Getty

Despite all of the issues swirling around the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series and the upstart league’s players’ fresh legal battle with the PGA Tour, Adidas is still open to partnering with members of the controversial circuit.

Speaking with hosts on CNBC’s Squawk Box Europe on Thursday following Adidas’s quarterly earnings report, company CEO Kasper Rorsted called the breakaway series part of the “normal evolution” of golf and said Adidas wants to “remain a sponsor of the individual.”

“We think it is a normal evolution that is going on, and eventually it is the bodies who need to decide what they do,” Rorsted said. “We have the same conversation when you look upon the Champions League or the World Cup with UEFA or FIFA. We have a very strong point of view of the players, and in essence, we want to make certain that we partner with the best player — we think that is how easy that is.”

Adidas already has partnership deals with big-name LIV golfers Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia and, unlike some other brands, has not nixed those agreements. That has led some to speculate that Adidas is actually considering going all-in on LIV Golf by sponsoring one of the tour’s teams. “I’m hearing Adidas Golf is very keen to buy a LIV Golf team, especially with two of their athletes in DJ and Sergio [Garcia] fully committed to LIV Golf and now resigned from the PGA Tour,” an insider told GolfMagic

Rorsted told CNBC that no decision had been made on whether the company would sponsor an LIV team. Part of the indecision may be due to the fact that Adidas posted a 28% year-on-year decline in operating profit for the second quarter.

In related news, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan issued a memo to his circuit’s players responding to members of the LIV league attempting to sue their way back onto the PGA Tour.

“We have been preparing to protect our membership and contest this latest attempt to disrupt our Tour, and you should be confident in the legal merits of our position,” Monahan wrote. “Fundamentally, these suspended players — who are now Saudi Golf League employees — have walked away from the Tour and now want back in. With the Saudi Golf League on hiatus, they’re trying to use lawyers to force their way into competition alongside our members in good standing.”

“This is your Tour, built on the foundation that we work together for the good and growth of the organization…and then you reap the rewards,” he added. “It seems your former colleagues have forgotten one important aspect of that equation.”

Adidas may be wise to remember it.