Proposed Visit Saudi sponsorship of Women’s World Cup deeply disappointing

Responding to reports that Visit Saudi would be sponsoring the FIFA Women’s World Cup to be held this year in Australia and New Zealand, Amnesty International Australia campaigner Nikita White said:

“It would be quite the irony for Saudi’s tourism body to sponsor the largest celebration of women’s sport in the world when you consider that, as a woman in Saudi Arabia, you can’t even have a job without the permission of your male guardian.

“The Saudi authorities have a horrendous record of human rights abuses – including cracking down on women’s rights defenders

“In recent years we’ve heard a lot about the release of activists from prison in Saudi Arabia including the women who campaigned for the right to drive, but people who are critical of the authorities and human rights defenders continue to be imprisoned following unfair trials.

“The campaign of so-called reform leader Mohammed Bin Salman has been on is nothing more than a publicity stunt to try to diversify the economy. The Saudi authorities sponsoring the Women’s World Cup would be a textbook case of sportwashing.”

Margaret Taylor, Community Manager for Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand, said:

“This is deeply disappointing because of Saudi Arabia’s egregious human rights record.

It is particularly concerning because of horrific abuses faced by women, girls, and LGBTQIA+ people in Saudi Arabia.

Amnesty International supporters are calling on Sports Minister Grant Robertson to speak out on Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, urge true reform and pressure FIFA to do the same. This is not a celebration of women’s sports, this is a sportswashing.

It’s time for Aotearoa to stand in solidarity with Saudi women and activists, by showing that we will not tolerate sportswashing or hiding human rights abuses.”