The male-only policies of three courses on the Open Championship rota is giving sponsor HSBC pause:
Giles Morgan, HSBC’s global head of marketing and events, told reporters in Abu Dhabi that it is an “uneasy position’’ for his company to be sponsoring a tournament that plays at places that discriminate.
“I don’t want to be in a situation where we are potentially having to justify our sponsorship,’’ Morgan said at the Abu Dhabi Championship.
In the 21st century, it probably is time for those Open rota clubs to end their discriminatory policies. But for HSBC to complain about the British courses is more than a little ridiculous. HSBC, after all, also sponsors tournaments in Abu Dhabi and China, both of whom have far worse policies as nations.
While it seems to be generally agreed that Abu Dhabi has a good record on rights compared to other Middle Eastern nations, it still is not good. Human Rights Watch cites them for jailing rape victims (for having sex outside marriage), criminalizing homosexuality, the abuse of migrant workers, instances of state sponsored torture, and the suppression of free association and expression.
Morgan ironically complained about the British clubs while attending the Abu Dhabi tournament.
The list of human rights abuses perpetuated by China is too long to list. But you won’t hear HSBC executives complain about China’s problems, for fear of arrest the next time they visited.
All five of HSBC’s golf sponsorships are expiring this year. If the company is genuinely concerned with people’s rights, they will not renew either their Abu Dhabi or China agreements.