- Football Australia and New Zealand Football said they were not consulted on the Visit Saudi sponsorship deal.
- FA chief executive James Johnson said the partnership does not align with the tournament’s vision.
- Former players and human rights activists have criticised the deal.
FIFA is under increasing pressure to ditch a reported sponsorship deal with Saudi Arabia for the women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Football Australia (FA) and its stakeholders have reached an “overwhelming consensus” that such a sponsorship deal does not align with their vision for the event in July.
The 32-team tournament, which kicks off in July, is being co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
Both FA and New Zealand Football said last month that they had not been consulted by FIFA after reports that Visit Saudi will join international brands such as Adidas, Coca-Cola and Visa as major sponsors.
FA chief executive James Johnson said on Monday that the organisation had consulted on the matter with the government and commercial partners.
“It was an overwhelming consensus that this partnership does not align with our collective vision for the tournament and falls short of our expectations,” Johnson said in a statement.
“Whilst the partnership has not been confirmed by FIFA, based on the consultations we have had with our community, key stakeholders and our own position, we would not be comfortable with it.
“While we await further clarity and information as to the details of the partnership from FIFA, we continue to convey this clear message on behalf of Football Australia, New Zealand Football, and our community.”
FIFA did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Football Australia Chief Executive Officer James Johnson said the Visit Saudi partnership for FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 does not align with the collective vision for the tournament. Source: AAP / Dean Lewins
Initial reports of the sponsorship deal were met with stinging criticism from several quarters including former players and human rights activists.
Former Australia international and media pundit Craig Foster said the deal would be “disgraceful in the extreme” while veteran US World Cup-winning forward Alex Morgan said it ‘morally’ did not make sense.
Amnesty International Australia said there was an ‘irony’ in a Saudi tourism body sponsoring the women’s tournament as women from that country “can’t even have a job without the permission of your male guardian”.