European Tour makes a serious bogey in visiting Saudi Arabia

first_img Read more comment Since you’re here… Facebook Golf … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay. Whether we are up close or further away, the Guardian brings our readers a global perspective on the most critical issues of our lifetimes – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. We believe complex stories need context in order for us to truly understand them. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. 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Here is a sporting body which penalises competitors for making an error with a scorecard yet thinks it reasonable to go cap in hand to a regime which, according to Amnesty International, oversaw the execution of 146 people in 2017.What Pelley understandably fails to mention in regards to Saudi Arabia is commercial necessity as his tour falls further and further behind its US equivalent. But must that arrive at all costs?To his credit, the Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee highlighted the Tour’s woefully bad call.“I cannot imagine what economic incentive it would take to get me to go to a place that is so egregiously on the wrong side of human rights,” he said. “I don’t think they fully understand what they are doing.“I don’t understand it from an economic point of view, I don’t understand it from a business point of view and I don’t understand it from a moral point of view. They are legitimising and enriching the rulers of this regime. I won’t even watch it on the TV. They should not be there. By participating, they are ventriloquists for this abhorrent, reprehensible regime.”Rose shrugged off such a notion. “I’m not a politician, I’m a pro golfer,” the Englishman said. “There are other reasons to go play it. It’s a good field, there’s going to be a lot of world ranking points to play for, by all accounts it’s a good golf course.”Rose’s explanation isn’t good enough, not least for someone so intelligent. When adding that he looked forward to “experiencing” Saudi Arabia, he should have contemplated what that has meant for so many others . Golfers readily skip events for all manner of trivialities. The problem is many of those around them rarely have the gumption to point out how poor scenarios may look in the real world. Commercial deals for players have spin-offs for managers, of course.The next time football or rugby is urged to view the world through golf’s lofty prism, the retort should be straightforward. The next time golf preaches about a genuine desire to be inclusive and diverse, we are entitled to burst out laughing. Quests for the moral high ground in sport are infamously tricky but this represents an extremity the European Tour should have readily avoided. Chief executive Keith Pelley has defended the decision. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images Four of the world’s top five are scheduled to tee up in Saudi. That comes with hefty reward; Justin Rose, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka et al are being richly compensated by way of appearance fees for just turning up. Low-ranked players might feel a necessity to play as they battle to maintain status. Paul Casey made it clear last week that he would not travel on human rights grounds – a view shared by plenty of others who have opted to keep counsel.“You have to look at the entire Middle East region,” Pelley said. “We have an excellent relationship with the Middle East and it’s very important; why it’s important is we can’t play anywhere in Europe at this time of year. Saudi is just an extension of the Middle East strategy.“The European Tour is one of many global companies who operate in Saudi Arabia. We understand their goal to make parts of the country more accessible to global business, tourism and leisure over the next decade.” Golf’s obsession with irrelevance was in evidence again on Sunday. That Li Haotong’s caddie was adjudged to have assisted the player with the lining up of a putt in the final round of the Dubai Desert Classic cost the defending champion by way of a two-stroke penalty. Commentators, players and caddies blasted this marginal call, rendered possible by recent amendments to the rules of golf. Muirfield’s members had fresh meat to titter about over Monday gins.By Monday afternoon, the European Tour and the R&A were at odds regarding the implementation of said rule. Keith Pelley, the Tour’s chief executive, bemoaned the lack of discretion available to his referees. Sceptics may suggest Pelley was seeking to create controversy where one does not exist in the hope of creating a handy diversion. Share on LinkedIn Pinterest Share on Twitter Share on WhatsApp European Tour Twitter Saudi Arabia Pelley had earlier appeared on television in the US attempting to do something which is never wise; defending the indefensible. If Pelley’s willingness to cut a deal to host a tour event in Saudi Arabia caused minor ripples when announced last year, subsequent events and the fact this tournament begins on Thursday has thrust a reputational own goal firmly back into the spotlight. Suffice to say the R&A, which many feel allowed gender discrimination to prevail on its watch for centuries, has kept out of this one.Recurring horrors in relation to Saudi Arabia and human rights barely need revisiting. The CIA’s claim in November that the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, most likely ordered the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi added a further layer of negativity – to put it mildly – that the European Tour could have done without. There have also been reports of the torture and sexual harassment of women’s rights activists in Saudi detention centres.As it attempts to show the world it is actually a misunderstood utopia, Saudi Arabia turned towards the world’s leading golfers; and found a depressingly willing audience. European Tour’s chief executive remains bullish as headaches mount Share via Email Share on Facebook Share on Messenger Support The Guardian Topics Sign up to The Recap, our weekly email of editors’ picks.last_img read more

Family loses fight for autistic son to have service dog in class

first_imgTORONTO – Ontario’s human rights tribunal has ruled that a nine-year-old autistic boy can’t bring his service dog with him into class.The decision says Kenner Fee’s family failed to prove that having his black Labrador Ivy in the classroom would help him with his education.Adjudicator and tribunal vice-chair Laurie Letheren found that the Waterloo Catholic District School Board took all necessary steps to evaluate whether the dog was needed in the classroom, and supported the board’s decision not to allow the service animal to sit beside Kenner during lessons.The tribunal heard from Kenner’s family that his autism leaves him prone to agitation, emotional outbursts and even bolting from his surroundings, but that having Ivy beside him significantly helps regulate his behaviour.Letheren accepted that evidence, but also accepted testimony from school board staff suggesting Kenner was performing well in class without Ivy, and that any problems he was encountering would not necessarily be addressed by the dog’s presence.Fee’s lawyer Laura McKeen says the family is crushed by the decision and is considering their next steps, including Kenner’s future education plans. She says the Fees have the right to appeal the ruling, but have not yet decided if they will do so.“They truly believe that Kenner’s service animal Ivy is essential to his entire life, including and specifically his education,” she said. “The Fees are devastated by the impact that decision is going to have on Kenner going forward.”The Waterloo Catholic District School Board did not comment specifically on the decision other than to acknowledge the outcome in their favour.“We work alongside families to make student-centred, individualized decisions that we collectively believe will allow them to flourish,” Director of Education Loretta Notten said in a statement. “Student success is of paramount importance to us and we strive to bring each one to their fullest potential.”The Aug. 30 tribunal decision chronicles a fight Kenner’s family began in April 2014 to get Ivy into the boy’s class, something that has not been allowed to date.The tribunal heard that Kenner had been matched with Ivy after training with the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides, an internationally accredited school that provides service dogs to address a range of disabilities.Kenner’s father, Craig Fee, told the tribunal that Ivy’s presence had made a noticeable difference in Kenner’s life and helped regulate his behaviour. When he sought permission to bring Ivy into Kenner’s classroom, however, the request was denied.Board employees told the tribunal there were concerns that Ivy would set Kenner back in his independence, adding that he may rely too much on the dog rather than working directly with staff and peers.Kenner’s father and various professionals working with Kenner told the tribunal the boy’s anxiety got worse the longer he went without his service animal during school days.The decision said that assertion was not supported by testimony from board staff, who said Kenner was largely compliant with instructions and generally functioning fairly well academically.Behaviour tracking sheets submitted to the tribunal noted instances when Kenner allegedly tried to leave the school yard and even climb out a window, but a special education teacher downplayed the incidents in his testimony.He said in both cases Kenner threatened to go through with an escape, but stopped upon being prompted by a teacher. The teacher also denied an incident noted in a behaviour tracking sheet indicating Kenner threw a chair, saying the student had never intentionally done anything to endanger himself or others.The teacher testified that Kenner was not visibly upset in class, though he did tell the tribunal that Kenner would sometimes yell out for Ivy.Letheren said that while having Ivy there would eliminate that issue, she said the dog “could not provide indicators about why the applicant may be feeling so stressed at school.”Letheren also went on to note that Kenner is prone to “exaggerating his situation” according to testimony from both his father and a teacher.Letheren said the board had taken appropriate steps to put learning supports in place for Kenner and that Ivy’s presence was not necessary.“I find that the evidence demonstrates that the supports and strategies that the respondent has provided to accommodate his disability related needs are providing him the opportunity to realize (his) potential and develop into (a) highly skilled, knowledgeable, caring citizen who contribute[s] to [his] society,” she wrote.The ruling was met with shock and dismay by some members of the autism community.Laura Kirby-McIntosh, Vice-President of the Ontario Autism Coalition, said the decision represents a setback for education in the province since school boards can apply provincial accessibility guidelines according to their own discretion.“The injustice here is that whether or not service dogs enter a school is going to be completely left to the discretion of 72 different individual school boards. To me, your rights should not change depending on your postal code.”Currently, Ontario’s education act does not treat schools as spaces that are open to the public, which is what permits boards to bar service animals from the premises if they wish.Kirby-McIntosh said there’s a pressing need for a province-wide education standard on all accessibility issues, including service animal access.last_img read more