Australia and New Zealand demand answers from FIFA on Saudi sponsorship

The host countries of the Women’s World Cup this year want answers.

New Zealand and Australia, which will co-host the 2023 Women’s World Cup, claimed on Thursday “urgentlyresponses from FIFA regarding reports that the Saudi Arabia Tourism Board is sponsoring the competition.

Despite the Saudi kingdom’s very poor record on women’s rights, Visit Saudi is reportedly set to be named among the sponsors of the 32-nation tournament which will take place in the two countries from July 20. Football Associations Australia and New Zealand officials said they had not been informed of the intended deal and “wrote jointly to FIFA to urgently clarify the situation».

In a statement, Football Australia said “very disappointed“not to have been”consulted on this issue before the decision is made“. His counterparts in New Zealand said to themselves “shocked and disappointedthat FIFA did not consult them.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has said he expects two billion viewers to watch the ninth edition of the Women’s World Cup. World football’s governing body hopes this will help develop women’s football, with the tournament for the first time being shared between two nations.

This draft sponsorship contract has drawn strong criticism: former Australian international Kathryn Gill has claimed that FIFA is “bound to respect all internationally recognized human rights and to exercise considerable influence when they are not respected or protected».

«The players’ goal is to make the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 a true force for good and they will continue to hold FIFA to account when it undermines it.added Kathryn Gill, co-chair of the Australian Professional Footballers’ Union.

Nikita White, Australia campaigner at Amnesty International, wondered how the Saudi tourism body could sponsor a Women’s World Cup when “in Saudi Arabia, a woman cannot even work without the permission of her male guardian“. She also pointed out theSaudi Arabia’s appalling record of human rights abuses».

«The sponsorship of the Women’s World Cup by the Saudi authorities would be a textbook case of sports laundering“, she assured. After Gulf neighbor Qatar hosted the FIFA Men’s World Cup last year, Saudi Arabia is also spending heavily on football to improve its image, such as recruitment at Golden award for Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo by Al-Nassr club.

The country was confirmed as host of the 2027 Asian Cup on Wednesday and is considering a joint bid with Egypt and Greece to host the 2030 Men’s World Cup.



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