Saudi Arabia’s tourist authority has struck a deal with FIFA to sponsor football’s Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand this year.
The deal has been agreed under FIFA’s new “commercial partnership structure” dedicated to developing revenues specifically for the women’s game (Middle East Eye).
Visit Saudi’s sponsorship role has attracted a wave of criticism, given the country’s repressive approach to women’s rights.
Saudi Arabia only established its national women’s football team in 2020, and women were not allowed to enter public stadiums until 2018.
“After Cristiano Ronaldo's signing, the purchase of Newcastle United, the LIV golf series ... Saudi Arabia’s use of sport to try to mask its terrible human rights record is now a depressingly well-established pattern," Amnesty International said in a statement.
Although there have been reforms in recent years including the end to a ban on women driving, these have been accompanied by the widespread arrest of women’s rights activists in the country.