FIFA Reverses Saudi Sponsorship of Women’s Planet Cup

In an off-field victory for human rights, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) has reversed its sponsorship plans with Check out Saudi, Saudi Arabia’s state tourism authority, for the 2023 Women’s Planet Cup. The Women’s Planet Cup is the flagship international women’s football occasion and has lengthy been a moment to celebrate women’s rights and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights and inclusion.

FIFA’s decision to award Visit Saudi sponsorship of the Women’s Planet Cup showed shocking disregard for the repression and suffering of Saudi Arabia’s courageous women’s rights defenders, which leading female players rightly condemned as an “own target.”

Saudi Arabia is a international outlier on women’s rights and also violates the rights of LGBT persons. As lately as 2018, girls and girls were barred from sport in schools – or even watching sporting events in stadiums. On International Women’s Day in 2022, Saudi authorities passed Saudi Arabia’s initially Private Status Law, which codifies repressive male guardianship guidelines and incorporates discriminatory provisions against girls regarding marriage, divorce, and choices about their young children. In August 2022, Saudi Arabia sentenced Salma Al-Shehab, a Saudi doctoral student who had been studying in the United Kingdom, to 34 years in prison for her use of Twitter.

Human Rights Watch has documented Saudi Arabia’s longstanding practice of “sportswashing,” which includes spending billions of dollars hosting significant sporting, entertainment, and cultural events as a deliberate method to deflect criticism from the country’s pervasive and systemic violations of human rights.

Human Rights Watch wrote to FIFA on February three to underscore the contradiction among Saudi Arabia’s Tourism Authority sponsorship of the Women’s Planet Cup and the football body’s claims that human rights are a essential portion of its values. We also asked FIFA what consultation with players, host nations, and other stakeholders it undertook ahead of signing off on the sponsorship deal. FIFA has not replied to the letter.

FIFA has incorporated human rights due to the fact 2016 and adopted a human rights policy stating that “human rights commitments are binding on all FIFA bodies and officials.” In practice, it has not normally lived up to these pledges.

Females football players are suitable to protest that their game was becoming monetized by FIFA, without safety, access, equal pay for equal function, consultation, or permission.

FIFA’s choice to reverse the Check out Saudi sponsorship of the Women’s Planet Cup must be a initially step toward constant due diligence and remedy on human rights across all of its operations.

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