Earlier today the LEC announced a new partnership with Neom. After an immense amount of backlash and criticism from both Riot employees and the community, Riot Games has ended the partnership with the Saudi Arabia city.
The statement from Europe Middle-East Asia Director of Esports Alberto Guerrero, which was posted to the official LoL Esports website within the same day as the announcement of the partnership, reads as follows:
“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. 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. In an effort to expand our esports ecosystem, we moved too quickly to cement this partnership and caused rifts in the very community we seek to grow. While we missed our own expectations in this instance, we’re committed to reexamining our internal structures to ensure this doesn't happen again.”
The LEC's partnership with Neom was received with outrage because of the strict condemnation of homosexuality in Saudi Arabia. Every member of the LEC broadcast expressed their displeasure with the partnership via Twitter, and LCS broadcast members joined in solidarity throughout the day.
Members of the community also highlighted the hypocrisy in the LEC's official logo, which is rainbow colors in support of the LGBTQ community, and partnering with an entity from a country that is staunchly against LGBTQ rights. Since the LEC announced the end of the partnership with Neom, community response has been positive, especially in context of the quickness in which the LEC took action.
UPDATE 7/30: As reported by ESPN Esports' Jacob Wolf, LEC notified its teams of the partnership, but the teams themselves did not have a say in the partnership itself.
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