Wednesday, November 02, 2011

At least Sepp Blatter is not involved in selecting the mosques

Yesterday, newly-appointed Saudi Crown Prince Nayef gave what was essentially his inaugural news conference in that position, albeit one springing from his existing position in charge of the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca.  Responding to what were apparently some testy questions about the state of preparations for a mass arrival compared to a World Cup --

The Crown Prince rejected the comparison between the organization of the world soccer cup finals and Hajj, stating that organizers of such international football events will have each a grace of more than two years while Hajj is a yearly event.

Among the problems with this excuse is that a World Cup hosting country has to build a lot of infrastructure for a one-time event, whereas Saudi Arabia knows ahead of time that it is home to the two holy mosques -- it's in the King's job title, after all --- and it knows exactly when each year's main pilgrimage will occur.  In addition, it's not like being a pilgrimage site swamped by visitors is a uniquely Islamic phenomenon.  A small town in France is able to host 5 million pilgrims a year without the recurring questions about preparedness faced by the Hajj -- that would be Lourdes.  Let's hope he's got a better response to the deficiencies than waiting for Qatar to screw up the 2022 World Cup.

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