Arsenal Women’s Viv Miedema: FIFA “should be deeply ashamed” of Saudi sponsorship

Arsenal Women’s Vivianne Miedema: FIFA “should be deeply ashamed” of Saudi sponsorship by Michelle

Arsenal Women’s dutch international Vivianne Miedema, who is currently side-lined after suffering an ACL injury in December 2022, has spoken out strongly against FIFA’s rumoured plans to partner with ‘Visit Saudi’ as part of a sponsorship deal for the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

It has been recently reported that the Saudi tourism authority is set to be one of the sponsors for the upcoming tournament in Australia and New Zealand. The news has the women’s football community up in arms and both the Australian and New Zealand football associations are appealing to FIFA to clarify the situation.

Homosexuality and gay marriage are illegal in Saudi Arabia, making the rumoured sponsorship unsettling for a tournament in which a number of prominent stars are gay. Saudi Arabia’s human rights record has also been described as “appalling” by Amnesty International in the past.

Vivianne Miedema, who is in a relationship with Arsenal teammate Beth Mead, shared her thoughts on Saudi Arabia’s possible partnership with FIFA in her AD Sportwereld column on Thursday.

It is hard to believe but apparently FIFA thinks it’s a good plan to take on Visit Saudi as a sponsor for the upcoming Women’s World Cup,” Miedema said

Saudi Arabia is a country where women barely have any rights and were not even allowed to play football before 2018. If this weren’t such a serious affair, it would almost make you laugh. That’s how hypocritical it is. A country where you are not allowed to be who you are. Where you are not accepted as a homosexual.

“So that country as the sponsor of a tournament where 32 women’s teams will compete, with many teams in which outspoken girls play who fortunately are not ashamed of their sexual orientation. FIFA is always busy making campaigns expressing how everyone is welcome.

“And then to think that this sponsorship deal is a good idea? The worst part is that I am not even surprised anymore. FIFA has shown many times that they like doing whatever they want, of course. They should be deeply ashamed.”

Miedema will not be playing for the Netherlands at the Women’s World Cup this summer due to her ACL injury. However, while she agrees players should not be expected to boycott the tournament, she hopes that key figures in the women’s game will make their voices heard on the issue ahead of the summer tournament.

Saudi Arabia’s Women’s Football League was launched in 2020, two years after women were permitted to attend football matches. In January, the women’s national team hosted and won a four-team friendly tournament in a bid to secure a first-ever FIFA women’s ranking.

Reacting to the potential sponsorship deal last week, two-time World Cup winner USA’s Alex Morgan said: “I think it’s bizarre that FIFA has looked to have a Visit Saudi sponsorship for the Women’s World Cup when I, myself, Alex Morgan, would not even be supported or accepted in that country, so I just don’t understand it.”

After the controversy surrounding the Qatar World Cup 2022 including human rights and gay rights issues, this has the potential once again to be a major talking point ahead of the Women’s World Cup, and rightly so if the rumours are true..

Michelle Maxwell

Lionesses boss Sarina Wiegman interviewed after a Leah Williamson double helps England Women win the Arnold Clark Cup in style with 6-1 win over Belgium to make it 3 wins out of 3.

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