Football Australia officials are hopeful Fifa will abandon plans to have Saudi Arabia’s tourism authority sponsoring the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
Co-hosts Australia and New Zealand recently asked Fifa to urgently clarify reports Visit Saudi was to be an official sponsor for the tournament.
The Gulf kingdom has been accused of human rights abuses.
Saudi Arabia has invested heavily in sporting events in recent years but has been accused of using events to ‘sportswash’ its reputation.
Women’s rights campaigners have been imprisoned, despite some reform under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, such as an end to the ban on women driving.
Saudi Arabia only sent women to the Olympics for the first time in 2012, but it has taken steps to develop women’s football in recent years, with female fans allowed to attend matches for the first time in 2018.
The Saudi Arabian Football Federation has appointed two women to its board of directors and created a women’s football department in 2019.
In 2020, a Women’s Football League was launched, and last month Saudi Arabia hosted and won a four-nation women’s football tournament in their bid to feature in the Fifa women’s world rankings for the first time.
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