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FIFA’s Women’s World Cup deal with Saudi Arabia sparks widespread anger

The Saudi Arabian government is incensed that its plan to sponsor the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand has sparked a backlash.

According to The Times, the co-hosts of the upcoming tournament are unhappy with FIFA’s decision to agree a sponsorship deal with the Gulf state’s tourism authority, Visit Saudi.

Saudi’s record on women’s rights and criminalisation of same-sex relationships has led to widespread calls for FIFA to sever ties with the country.

Local broadcasters have written to FIFA to express concern over Visit Saudi’s potential involvement, sparking rumours that the deal may not be done.

FIFA have not confirmed the situation either way, which has left members of the local organising team extremely frustrated.

However, Saudi ministers are angry as they believe they have made progress on the issues and their efforts have not been acknowledged.

FIFA has been attempting to find a compromise, but the host nations are reluctant to adjust their stance as most stakeholders do not want the Saudis on board.

Arsenal and Netherlands striker Vivianne Miedema has blasted FIFA for agreeing to the partnership, saying they should be ‘deeply ashamed’ of their actions.

However, the Saudi government has argued there has been a significant increase in participation in sports among females in the country.

They have highlighted the creation of the Saudi Women’s Premier League as evidence of their revised attitudes towards females.

However, the criminalisation of homosexuality in Saudi remains an issue, particularly with same-sex relationships quite prevalent in women’s football.

The Saudis believe they are being unfairly singled out on this issue, with almost one-third of FIFA’s 211 member countries also banning such relationships.

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