Hosts want ‘urgent’ answers over Saudi sponsorship of Women’s World Cup

Co-hosts New Zealand and Australia said Thursday they “urgently” want answers from FIFA over reports Saudi Arabia’s tourist board will sponsor the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

Visit Saudi is reportedly poised to be named among the sponsors of the 32-team football tournament to be held in New Zealand and Australia, which kicks off in Auckland on July 20.

The tournament’s sponsorship deal is planned to go ahead despite the Gulf nation’s poor record on women’s rights.

Officials from both Football Australia and New Zealand Football said they were not informed about the planned deal and “have jointly written to FIFA to urgently clarify the situation”.

In a statement, Football Australia said it is “very disappointed” that they “were not consulted on this matter prior to any decision being made”.

Their counterparts in New Zealand said they are “shocked and disappointed” that FIFA had not consulted them about the planned deal.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has said he expects “two billion viewers” to tune into the ninth edition of the Women’s World Cup.

World football’s governing body hopes it will expand growth of the women’s game with the tournament split between two nations for the first time.

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