Saudi Arabia Sparks Controversy Over Sponsorship

The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, taking place this summer from July 20 to Aug. 20 in host countries Australia and New Zealand, is taking some heat for its reported sponsorship with Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has been criticized many times in the past for violating many basic human rights. There is major discrimination against women in Saudi Arabia who face challenges regarding marriage, divorce, inheritance, and child custody rights.

According to CNN, both Australia and New Zealand soccer federations are disappointed about Saudi Arabia’s reported sponsorship of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The co-host countries claim they were not consulted by FIFA about this potential sponsorship agreement.

“I don’t think they should be allowed to sponsor at all,” said Nicki Green, a senior on the Sacred Heart women’s soccer team. “I think their lack of respect for women is a disgrace and it would speak volumes if they hosted the Women’s World Cup.”

Another problem with Saudi Arabia’s justice system is that the women who speak up face jail time.

“FIFA shouldn’t allow Saudi Arabia to sponsor the Women’s World Cup,” said junior Aaliyah Farid. “It would have a totally new outlook on the sport. It’s completely disempowering for women.”

Women’s rights are not the only thing that Saudi Arabia violates. According to The New York Times, LGBTQ people have faced discrimination, potentially including arrest and prosecution.

Many members of the FIFA governing board have expressed their disagreement with the decision, including Moya Dodd, a former vice-captain for the Australian women’s national team.  Dodd was one of the first women to appear on FIFA’s governing board.

“If FIFA is planning to take money to tell L.G.B.T.Q.+ fans and players to ‘Visit Saudi,’ it’s hard to see how this could pass responsible business principles, let alone meet FIFA’s own human rights obligations and policies,” Dodd told the New York Times.

Dodd is not the only member of a women’s national team to speak up on this issue. Forward Alex Morgan has spoken up on behalf of the United States’ team.

 “I think it’s bizarre that FIFA has looked to have Saudi sponsorship for the Women’s World Cup,” Morgan told The Guardian.

The 33 year old San Dimas, Ca. native has spoken up on numerous occasions when it comes to political issues in the past including during the 2020 presidential election.

“Alex Morgan is literally the face of women’s soccer,” said Farid. “If she is against it, then everyone who supports her and her fans are obviously going to base their outlook on this decision.”

Morgan has led the United States Women’s National team to two World Cup championships in 2015 and 2019 while also helping them capture Olympic gold in 2012.

“I think Alex Morgan has the right idea as the rest of the women’s athletes should too,” said Green. “Just in the past few years USA women’s soccer earned the treatment they deserve and seeing the Saudi Arabian sponsor would set everything back decades.”

Sacred Heart Athletics contributed to this article.

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