Rumoured Visit Saudi FIFA Sponsorship Draws Fresh Criticism From Alex Morgan

American footballer Alex Morgan has criticised proposed moves to make Visit Saudi sponsors of the FIFA Women’s World Cup later this year.

The tournament will be hosted across Australia and New Zealand this summer, with football associations from both countries stating that they have not been consulted on the potential deal. FIFA has yet to comment on the decision.

Morgan, who has scored 120 goals in 201 appearances for the United States national team, stated that the decision taken by FIFA is ‘bizarre’.

The 33-year-old said: “I would not even be supported and accepted in that country, so I just don’t understand it.”

Morgan played with Carli Lloyd for the US national team for 11 years.

Women’s football has seen growing interest and development in recent years, with increasing attendances at Women’s Super League games in England. 

Last summer’s European Championship acted as a catalyst for the women’s game in this country. The England national team won the tournament on home turf, beating Germany in the final.

Jess Watkins, Founding Director of Content Ballers, was initially disappointed with the rumoured sponsorship decision. However, she feels it could also pave the way for improved women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.

Miss Watkins said: “I’m hoping they’re looking to improve rights for women, improve women’s football and make a stance”

The 22-year-old content creator also highlighted the recent developments of women’s football in the Gulf state. 

In February 2020, the Saudi government established a new national women’s football league, and the country recently made a bid to host the 2026 AFC Women’s Asia Cup.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (Right) with FIFA President Gianni Infantino (Left) at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, as well as human rights as a whole, are still a major concern. Critics have accused the Kingdom of ‘sportswashing’ in order to improve their image on the international stage.

The Saudi monarchy has used the Public Investment Fund (PIF) to invest heavily in global sports ventures.

Last June marked the inaugural Saudi-funded LIV golf tournament. Eight months earlier, the PIF completed a takeover of Newcastle United.

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