Whatever bloom was on the Keith Pelley rose is in pieces on the garden ground after last week’s executions in Saudi Arabia are juxtaposed against the European Tour Chief’s latest comments.
Speaking to Andrew Both of Reuters, Pelley defended the moribund embarrassment of a tournament hosted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the story notes the killing of American-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Embassy last October, though even more incredible human rights violations have since occurred, from beheading teenagers last week and the escalating human rights crisis in Yemen.
“It was the right decision for our tour,” Canadian Pelley told Reuters.
“We will be back in Saudi and we’ll continue to grow that event. We believe our role will help the evolution of the country.”
Grow, as in get the spectator count over 100 and pad those appearance fees for players.
Pelley whined about golf getting singled out, though he neglected to mention that three of professional tennis’s biggest names ultimately took a rain check on accepting the Crown Prince’s money last fall. Pelley sounds smitten:
“I went over there first and listened to his Excellency (Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman) at a sports conference, talk about how ... the country wanted to change, needed to change, wanted to use sports as a catalyst, was committed to golf.”
I don’t think golf is going to attach heads savagely taken off by sword in a public square and I’m pretty sure there won’t be a charitable component next year to help starving children. But maybe the European Tour chief knows something we do not?
On a much less significant note, Pelley’s determination to stage this event with such a vile creature permanently stained his legacy as rumors continue to have him with one foot out the door. By digging in and making comments tone deaf to the humanitarian issues, he may stain the sport by not simply keeping his tour away out of a business relationship with a dark, disturbed and deplorable man.