FIFA has scrapped plans to allow Saudi Arabia’s tourist authority to become a major sponsor of the upcoming Women’s World Cup.
The decision comes after a wave of significant backlash from all corners of the football community, including fans, players, and national governing bodies. All questioned why Visit Saudi was being considered as a sponsor, considering Saudi Arabia’s appalling record on women’s and LGBTQI+ rights.
Football Australia and Football New Zealand, the hosts of this year’s Women’s World Cup, had raised their concerns with FIFA about it, and high profile players including US star Alex Morgan spoke out in opposition, calling it “bizzarre”.
“I think it’s bizarre that FIFA has looked to have a Visit Saudi sponsorship for the Women’s World Cup, when I, myself, Alex Morgan, would not even be accepted and supported in that country,” Morgan said.
An online petition to get the decision reversed was also launched by Australian Madeleine Shaw, who was outraged by the reports of the Visit Saudi sponsorship.
“I am the mother of a 14-year-old soccer playing daughter (under 14 Bs premier! ha), and we have tickets to some World Cup matches and we were so excited to be part of something so positive,” Shaw told Women’s Agenda at the time.
“When I saw this news I felt it physically, like a kick in the guts – I just couldn’t believe a country that would treat us as children for our adult lives is getting the benefit of association with an event that celebrates the strengths and achievements of women.”
In other related news, it’s been announced that the Women’s World Cup will see a significant increase in prize money in 2023, three times the amount offered in the 2019 tournament. FIFA president Gianni Infantino confirmed there will be a $US152 million ($229 million) fund for the tournament.