After two weeks and continuous pressure from the CS:GO community, BLAST and Neom have reportedly ended their partnership. The deal with Neom, a Saudi Arabian futuristic city, was announced on July 28, cited the growth BLAST has experienced over the past year and spoke of creating a hub for esports in the Saudi region. While BLAST expressed they are "excited about the experience and benefits NEOM can bring to the industry," fans and industry professionals were not.
The community took to Twitter and online forums to discuss and condemn the deal, and teams pressured the BLAST leadership to end the partnership, pointing out the multitude of issues associated with doing business with Saudi Arabia. Not only do the laws in the kingdom prohibit homosexuality and provide very few rights to women compared to the standard of most modern countries, but furthermore the construction of Neom itself has been deemed controversial, as it's connected with the eviction of the local Huwaitat tribe.
BLAST was not the only big esports company under fire for a Neom partnership this month. Riot Games and the LEC announced their own deal just one day after the BLAST announcement but received harsh criticism from the community, and Rioters themselves began to stage walkouts and threatened to quit if the deal wasn't reversed. The LEC broadcast crew boycotted the deal, going on strike until it was overturned. After just 14 hours, Riot terminated the partnership, though leadership later claimed that those responsible for the deal "did nothing wrong."
BLAST has not yet officially confirmed the end of the deal.
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