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Relatives of victims of the September 11 attacks have spoken out against LIV Golf as it prepares for an event less than 50 miles from the scene of the atrocity.

Protests were previously held ahead of the circuit’s US debut in Portland earlier this month, but its arrival in New Jersey is likely to see those step up a notch.

Trump Bedminster, where this week’s 54-hole tournament is being held, is a short distance from Manhattan, the site of the World Trade Center which was one of the targets on 9/11.

Families of those killed are angry at the series’ arrival as it is backed by the Saudi government’s public investment fund. Of the 19 hijackers on September 11 2001, 15 were Saudi nationals.

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“If I could talk to [the players from LIV Golf] I would that say I’m horrified they could be bought. It’s not like [Phil Mickelson and others] are struggling [financially],” Alison Crowther, whose son Welles was killed, told the New York Post.

“That they could be morally compromised by money from a source such as this, I find it appalling. I find it a testament to their own character, which is unsatisfactory.”

An investigation by the FBI into the Saudi government’s involvement in the atrocity found two of the terrorists had received “significant” logistical support.

LIV has also been accused of being a vehicle for Saudi “sportswashing”, the act of using sport to improve one’s reputation.

“I’m aware there are corporations in the U.S. funded by Saudi money; their involvement in this country is no mystery,” said Matthew Bocchi, who was nine years old when his father John died in the attacks.

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“This is setting a precedent we don’t want set. I’m a big sports fan. If this can happen so easily and so close to home, who’s to say this isn’t going to continue and they’re not going to get involved in other sports?

“The proximity of this tournament — I grew up 15 minutes from here. I went to so many funerals here. It ignites [the emotions] all over again. I respect a lot of the golfers. Is the money worth it? Do they need $200 million from the Saudis? Maybe some of them do. But they need to realize this is a fight we’ve been having for years. It’s hurtful. I respect Rory [McIlroy], who has spoken out against it and said this is sportswashing. I have a lot of friends who are golf fans. They feel the same way. This is going to set a tone that we don’t want.”

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