Riot Games has announced a new partnership with NEOM, a Saudi Arabian city project. Announced in 2017, NEOM is designed to be a cross-border smart city built with new technologies, with plans for it to be powered entirely by renewable energy. Riot has said that NEOM will sponsor the ‘Oracle Lens’ sections of LEC live broadcasts.
The announcement has caused backlash with community members as well as Riot employees. Concerns have been raised over Saudi Arabia’s LGBT rights record, and the backlash has been amplified by the LEC’s use of the pride colours in their Twitter logo (seen above), as well as their previous support of LGBT events. A number of fans, as well as figures from within the LEC and the professional scene, many of whom are members of the LGBT community, have voiced their opinions on the LEC’s new partnership.
Concerns have also been raised about the development of the city itself. According to a report by the Guardian, “At least 20,000 members” of the Huwaitat tribe are due to be displaced due to the project. The LEC have not yet responded to the backlash.
*Update (30/07/20)* Riot Games have since announced a U-Turn after huge pressure from the community at large forced a change in decision.