No Saudi sponsor for the 2023 Women's World Cup. FIFA President Gianni Infantino announced on Thursday (March 16th) that Saudi Arabia's tourism board had given up its financial support for the event as the host countries, Australia and New Zealand, had rebelled against such a project carried by a country with a questionable record on women's rights.
"There were discussions with 'Visit Saudi', but in the end it didn't lead to a contract," Infantino told a news conference after his re-election as Fifa's leader.
"It was a storm in a teacup," he continued, referring to reactions in Australia and New Zealand, particularly in Australia and New Zealand, to the announcement that the tournament could have a Saudi partner.
New Zealand and Australia had then demanded "urgently" answers from FIFA, the New Zealand federation even saying it was "shocked and disappointed" that FIFA had not consulted it.
"FIFA is an organization made up of 211 national federations, there is nothing wrong with accepting partnerships from Saudi Arabia, China, the United States, Brazil or India," Infantino said Thursday.
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The Australian and New Zealand football federations welcomed FIFA's announcement.
"We welcome Fifa's clarification regarding Visit Saudi," Football Australia boss James Johnson said in a statement. "Equality, diversity and inclusion are very important commitments for Football Australia," he added.
"We believe it is essential that all commercial partnerships align with the vision and values of the tournaments in which they are involved," New Zealand Football said.
"Women deserve more, much more"
The FIFA president also said that bonuses for female players and compensation paid to clubs for the 2023 World Cup had tripled compared to the 2019 edition ($50 million) to $152 million.
However, he sharply criticised TV broadcasters, who were not keen on broadcasting the Women's World Cup: "If they offer us 100 million (dollars) for the men's World Cup, they offer us a million (dollars) or less for the women's tournament, and at the same time, these broadcasters criticize FIFA about gender equality for bonuses," he stressed.
"You can offer 20% less or even 50% less, but not 100% less, women deserve more, much more, and we are here to fight alongside them," he said.
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