Alex Morgan: USA forward calls potential Saudi sponsorship deal for 2023 Women’s World Cup ‘bizarre’

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“Morally it makes no sense” – Alex Morgan on Saudi Arabia’s possible World Cup sponsorship deal

That Saudi Arabia’s tourism board may sponsor the 2023 Women’s World Cup is “bizarre,” says US striker Alex Morgan.

Earlier this month, co-hosts Australia and New Zealand asked Fifa to “urgently clarify” reports that Visit Saudi would be named official sponsor for the tournament, which begins in July.

“Morally it just doesn’t make sense,” said two-time world champion Morgan.

“It is bizarre that Fifa tried to have Visit Saudi sponsorship for the Women’s World Cup when myself, Alex Morgan, would not even be supported and accepted in this country.”

Saudi Arabia has invested heavily in sporting events in recent years, but has been accused of using events to “sportswash” its reputation.

Despite some reforms under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, such as the end of the driving ban for women, women’s rights activists have been imprisoned.

Western intelligence services claim the crown prince ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 – which he denies.

The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) said it would voice its concerns to world soccer’s governing body over the sponsorship deal, which has yet to be officially announced.

“US Soccer strongly supports human rights and justice for all and believes in the power of our sport to make a positive impact,” the USSF said in a statement to Athletic on Wednesday.

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Morgan was world champion with the USA in 2015 and 2019

“While we cannot control how other organizations handle the selection of sponsors for the tournaments we participate in, we can voice our concerns and will continue to support our players.”

The sponsorship deal is part of a new commercial partnership structure put in place by Fifa to allow brands to specifically support women’s football.

While the scope of the deal has not been disclosed, insiders claim it will give women’s football a significant boost and the money raised will be reinvested in football.

“I just don’t get it,” Morgan added.

“What Saudi Arabia can do is strive for their women’s team, which was only formed a few years ago and doesn’t even have an up-to-date ranking within the Fifa ranking system due to the few games they’ve played.

“That would be my advice to them and I really hope Fifa does the right thing.”

Saudi Arabia only sent women to the Olympics for the first time in 2012, but has taken steps to develop women’s football in recent years, allowing female fans to attend football matches for the first time in 2018.

The Saudi Arabian Football Federation has appointed two women to its board and created a women’s football section in 2019.

A women’s soccer league was launched in 2020, and last month Saudi Arabia hosted and won a four-nation women’s soccer tournament to enter the FIFA Women’s World Ranking for the first time.

The Women’s World Cup will be held in cities across Australia and New Zealand from July 20 to August 20, and organizers believe a record two billion people could watch the tournament.

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