The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s tourist authority is reportedly set to be sponsor of FIFA’s Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand this year, local media reported.
Visit Saudi is expected to join global brands such as Adidas, Coca-Cola and Visa under FIFA’s new “commercial partnership structure”.
The 2023 Women’s World Cup competitions in Australia and New Zealand will start on July 20, and will end on August 20.
The 2023 Women’s World Cup will witness for the first time an increase in the number of teams to 32 teams, and also for the first time that it will be held in two countries, after it was 24 teams in the 2019 edition in France.
Despite the huge strides women’s football has made in recent years, the announcement that Visit Saudi will become the headline sponsor has sparked condemnation.
In recent years, the Kingdom has been criticized for its record on human rights and women’s rights.
In 2022, it was ranked as the second worst human rights violation worldwide by Human Rights Watch due to the execution of 81 men in one day.
This sponsorship will be the latest in a series of major sports investments by Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia has begun to enter the women’s football arena with full force since the country implemented its ambitious plan for Saudi Vision 2030, as the country has two degrees of competition, through the Women’s Premier League with the participation of 8 teams, and the First Division League with the participation of 17 teams.
At the beginning of this year— 2023, Saudi Arabia organized the first international women’s football championship, under the name — Women’s International Friendly Championship 2023 in the Saudi city of Khobar, which witnessed the participation of Mauritius, Comoros, Pakistan and the Saudi landowner, who won the title.
In June 2022, the country organized the West Asian Championship for Futsal Women 2022 in Jeddah, which ended with the landowner winning the runner-up, in exchange for the championship title going to the Iraqi national team.
Women were allowed to attend football matches in Saudi Arabia for the first time in 2018, and the country introduced a women-only national football team for the first time in 2022.