Riot Games will reportedly set up a new ethics committee and global deal council in response to the widespread criticism of the League of Legends European Championship’s now axed partnership with NEOM.
The partnership was scrapped less than 24 hours after it was announced following backlash from Riot employees and LEC casters. This was due to the NEOM project being backed by the Saudi Arabian government, which has a notorious track record when it comes to the human rights violations and treatment of journalists, women, and LGBTQ people. According to ESPN’s Jacob Wolf, a company-wide call from Riot leadership promised a new ethics committee and council will be established to prevent a similar partnership being made again.
On the call, Riot’s CEO Nicolo Laurent and executives reportedly apologise for the “breakdowns in communication” that led to the NEOM deal being approved. According to Wolf, Laurent also reveals that the Global Esports team “did not have the power to veto the deal” and that the establishment of the global deals council and ethics committee will help rectify this for future deals with Riot’s esports leagues.
Riot’s president, Dylan Jadeja, also says on the company call: “The intent is for all of us to have a voice to raise a flag and for that to be followed through on. That team, that department, will also be responsible for formalising and reinforcing the deal evaluation framework.”
While changes appear to be happening internally at Riot, another big name in esports is still tied to a partnership with NEOM.
Tournament organiser BLAST is yet to address the increasing scrutiny around its deal with the Saudi project, which has led to CS:GO talent taking similar action to their LEC counterparts and refusing to work on BLAST broadcasts until the deal is ended.