A deal between FIFA and Saudi Arabia could end due to vehement opposition from Australia and New Zealand. The two nations are hosting the 2023 Women’s World Cup in the summer. Part of the sponsorship for that tournament was from Visit Saudi, even though Saudi Arabia has no part in the tournament.
Saudi Arabia has a notorious record against women, both in sport and outside of it. Women only earned the right to attend soccer matches in 2018. Saudi Arabia then hosted a four-team friendly involving women’s teams to get an official FIFA ranking.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, a number of critics could see FIFA reshape its agreement with Visit Saudi. For instance, the football federations for Australia and New Zealand both demanded clarification on what FIFA’s deal with Saudi Arabia means. Then, some of the name’s most recognizable faces in the women’s game criticized the plan. USWNT stars Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe called the sponsorship ‘bizarre’ and totally outrageous. Also, Dutch international Vivianne Miedema said FIFA should feel ‘deeply ashamed’ for allowing this to happen.
Now, FIFA could, at the least, be looking to reform how its deal may happen. That includes looking into targeting a different aspect of Saudi Arabia to advertise for. Or, it may face the consequences of the current sponsorship deal.
FIFA deal with Saudi Arabia after Australia, New Zealand opposition
The first change the report takes into account is that FIFA may take the sponsorship away from Visit Saudi. Instead, it could promote something else in Saudi Arabia. This is because both Australia and New Zealand would use the tournament as a way to promote their tourism. Having a competing sponsor could take away from some of the effectiveness of hosting.
The report also listed out the potential ramifications of the Visit Saudi deal. FIFA runs the risk of protests at the tournament. After all, there is opposition from both the hosts and players at the tournament. Call back to the 2022 World Cup. Players from eight countries were going to wear the OneLove rainbow captain’s armbands. However, FIFA banned these just before the competition, telling players that anyone donning the armband would earn a yellow card.
The protests surrounding Visit Saudi could be just as vocal, if not more so, given the host of the tournament is already uncomfortable with this sponsorship.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Cover-Images
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