Former Socceroo and human rights activist Craig Foster has criticised Fifa for accepting Visit Saudi as a sponsor of the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, a sponsorship deal between FIFA and Visit Saudi is set to be announced as part of a new commercial strategy. Visit Saudi – Saudi Arabia’s tourist arm, would join Visa and Commonwealth Bank as existing sponsors of the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
SBS commentator Craig Foster voiced his criticism of the move:
“Acceptance of Saudi sponsorship without acknowledgment of the accompanying human rights abuses is typical of FIFA and global sport right now and disgraceful in the extreme,” he told the Herald and The Age.
“The Australian Human Rights Commission formulated a report as mandated under FIFA’s human rights policy which identified salient risks, including to journalists, for example. This has not precluded a Saudi sponsorship despite state-sponsored assassination and dismemberment of a dissident journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.”
“It’s particularly galling that a nation that is listed on the global gender equality index at 127 out of 153 countries, has a legal system that entrenches gender discrimination against women and that issued a 34-year prison sentence to Salma Al-Shehab simply for tweets and retweets on human rights and political issues in Saudi Arabia now sponsors a women’s sports tournament in a country proud of its push for equality across all sport.”
The Herald said FIFA declined to comment.
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