Official: BLAST ends partnership with NEOM
The Danish company confirmed that it was a mutual decision and pledged to continue to help the Middle Eastern esports scene to grow.
BLAST has ended its partnership with Saudi Arabian futuristic city NEOM just two weeks after the deal was announced, as first reported by HLTV.org. The tournament organiser confirmed the decision on Thursday in a statement first revealed by Danish newspaper B.T., saying that the two parties reached a "mutual, professional, and respectful agreement" to terminate the contract.
The decision came after BLAST faced intense scrutiny from on-air talent, the community and the tournament's own partner teams since the deal was announced on July 28. The partnership was widely criticised due to Saudi Arabia's history of human rights violations and the fact that NEOM is being built on land that is partially occupied by the Huwaitat tribe, who are being forcefully evicted.
BLAST, which had described the partnership as a "record deal", did not say how this decision will affect the company's future operations. But despite this setback, BLAST restated its commitment to continue to develop the esports scene, including in the Middle East, where it has already hosted two events (Turkey in 2018 and Bahrain in 2019).
"BLAST remains focused on increasing access and involvement to esports, and we will continue to seek to expand our global footprint including in the Middle East," the Danish company added.
BLAST is the second esports company to end a partnership with NEOM in the last two weeks after Riot Games backed out of a deal that would see the futuristic $500 billion mega-city become the official partner of the League of Legends European Championship (LEC) after public outcry.