The Co-hosts New Zealand and Australia were ‘not informed’ and ‘not consulted’ over Saudi Arabia being the official WW Cup sponsorship.
Two co-hosts wrote to FIFA in asking for urgent clarification over the reports that Saudi Arabia’s tourism authority is to be named as an official sponsor of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023. The Gulf Kingdom has a rich history of accusations in regards to human rights abuses.
They both condemned the action of the football world’s governing body, whilst Amnesty International called FIFA’s action as “crude exploitation” of the sport. The said tournament will take place from July 20 to August 20, 2023 across cities in Australia and New Zealand, as organizers believed that a record of two billion people could watch the tournament.
The said sponsorship deal between FIFA and the Saudi Arabia Tourism is a commercial partnership structure in which will allow brands to specifically support the women’s tournament. “Football Australia understands IFA has entered into a destination partnership agreement in respect to the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023,” said by Football Australia in a press release.
New Zealand released a statement condemning the unofficial partnership, “We are very disappointed that Football Australia were not consulted on this matter prior to any decision being made. Football Australia and New Zealand Football have jointly written to FIFA to urgently clarify the situation. If these reports prove correct, we are shocked and disappointed to hear this as New Zealand Football haven’t been consulted by FIFA at all on this matter.”
“It would be quite the irony for Saudi’s tourism body to sponsor the largest celebration of women’s sport in the world when you consider that, as a woman in Saudi Arabia, you can’t even have a job without the permission of your male guardian,” said by the Amnesty International Australia campaigner Nikita White.
In an interview from a known Sports news outlet, Saudi Arabia’s sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal said that the country will always face global criticism. “I think we will always be criticized but we have to look at what’s best for our country and our people, and what is actually developing our youth towards the future,” he said.
This sponsorship controversy also got the attention o9f the director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch, Minky Worden and said that the decision showed a “shocking disregard” for the status of women in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
“It is a shocking disregard of the suffering and ongoing repression of courageous women’s rights defenders in Saudi Arabia, to award the kingdom’s tourism company a sponsorship for the 2023 Women’s World Cup,” he said.
“It is worth remembering that, as recently as 2018, women and girls in Saudi Arabia were not allowed to play sports in schools – or even to watch sports in stadiums. Instead of sports washing with sponsorship to attempt to rehabilitate its global image, it would be far better for Saudi Arabia to undertake fundamental human rights reforms, including to uphold basic rights for women and girls,” Worden emphasized.
The Gulf nation recently made some noise when their local league was able to land the biggest football name in the world in Cristiano Ronaldo and they are creating noise by being very keen to host the men’s World Cup in 2030, potentially joining the bid with Greece and Egypt.
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