By: Gyang Dakwo
FIFA has dropped plans for Saudi Arabia to sponsor the 2023 Women’s World Cup, says FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
It follows a backlash from co-hosts Australia and New Zealand, players, and sponsors about the proposed deal.
Infantino said talks had taken place with Visit Saudi, the gulf Country’s tourism arm, about sponsoring the tournament.
“In the end, this discussion didn’t lead into a contract,” he said, calling the affair “a storm in a teacup.”
Infantino, who has been re-elected unopposed as FIFA president, also said the football body is aiming to have equal prize money for the men’s and women’s World Cup by 2027.
He said he would not have seen an issue with Saudi Arabia sponsoring a World Cup in Australia and New Zealand as “FIFA is an organisation of 211 countries, for us, they are all the same,” and given that there is $1.5bn worth of trade between Australia and Saudi Arabia every year.
“This doesn’t seem to be a problem,” he said. “But between a global organisation like FIFA and Visit Saudi this would have been an issue. There is a double standard here, which I really do not understand.
“There is no issue and no contract. There are discussions and of course, we want to see how we can involve Saudi sponsors in women’s football generally, how we can involve Saudi sponsors in Men’s football, or we can involve Qatari sponsors in women’s football and men’s football, and all other sponsors from all over the world.”
Football Australia Chief Executive James Johnson said: “We welcome clarification from FIFA regarding Visit Saudi.
“Equality, diversity, and inclusion are really deep commitments for Football Australia and we’ll continue to work hard with FIFA to ensure the Women’s World Cup is shaped in this light, and it is a historic event for our nation, showcasing the world’s greatest female players and advancing the game globally.”