In an off-field victory for human rights, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) has reversed its sponsorship plans with Go to Saudi, Saudi Arabia’s state tourism authority, for the 2023 Women’s Planet Cup. The Women’s Planet Cup is the flagship worldwide women’s football occasion and has extended been a moment to celebrate women’s rights and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights and inclusion.
FIFA’s decision to award Visit Saudi sponsorship of the Women’s Planet Cup showed shocking disregard for the repression and suffering of Saudi Arabia’s courageous women’s rights defenders, which top rated rated female players rightly condemned as an “own aim.”
Saudi Arabia is a worldwide outlier on women’s rights and also violates the rights of LGBT men and women. As lately as 2018, girls and girls were barred from sport in schools – or even watching sporting events in stadiums. On International Women’s Day in 2022, Saudi authorities passed Saudi Arabia’s 1st Private Status Law, which codifies repressive male guardianship suggestions and consists of discriminatory provisions against girls concerning marriage, divorce, and options about their children. In August 2022, Saudi Arabia sentenced Salma Al-Shehab, a Saudi doctoral student who had been studying in the United Kingdom, to 34 years in prison for her use of Twitter.
Human Rights Watch has documented Saudi Arabia’s longstanding practice of “sportswashing,” which needs spending billions of dollars hosting primary sporting, entertainment, and cultural events as a deliberate tactic to deflect criticism from the country’s pervasive and systemic violations of human rights.
Human Rights Watch wrote to FIFA on February 3 to underscore the contradiction involving Saudi Arabia’s Tourism Authority sponsorship of the Women’s Planet Cup and the football body’s claims that human rights are a vital element of its values. We also asked FIFA what consultation with players, host nations, and other stakeholders it undertook ahead of signing off on the sponsorship deal. FIFA has not replied to the letter.
FIFA has incorporated human rights thinking about that 2016 and adopted a human rights policy stating that “human rights commitments are binding on all FIFA bodies and officials.” In practice, it has not frequently lived up to these pledges.
Girls football players are suitable to protest that their game was receiving monetized by FIFA, without safety, access, equal pay for equal carry out, consultation, or permission.
FIFA’s choice to reverse the Go to Saudi sponsorship of the Women’s Planet Cup ought to be a 1st step toward continual due diligence and remedy on human rights across all of its operations.
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