Thursday April 18, 2024

Women’s World Cup hosts hail FIFA ruling out Saudi sponsorship

March 18, 2023

WELLINGTON: Co-hosts New Zealand and Australia on Friday welcomed FIFA’s announcement that Saudi Arabia’s tourism board will not sponsor this year’s Women’s World Cup.

The two countries had protested when reports emerged last month that Visit Saudi Arabia would be among the sponsors of the 32-team football tournament hosted by New Zealand and Australia from July 20.

The Australian and New Zealand football authorities wrote a joint letter to FIFA saying they were “shocked” not to have been consulted given the Gulf nation’s poor record on women’s rights.

But, speaking at a congress in the Rwandan capital Kigali on Thursday, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said talks with Visit Saudi “did not lead to a contract”.

Infantino also accused Australia of employing a “double standard” by opposing the sponsorship while maintaining trade links with Saudi Arabia.

Football Australia chief executive James Johnson said Friday that the body welcomed the “clarification from FIFA regarding Visit Saudi”.

Equality, diversity and inclusion were “deep commitments” for Football Australia, he said in a statement on its website.

“We’ll continue to work hard with FIFA to ensure the Women’s World Cup is shaped in this light,” Johnson added.