USWNT star Alex Morgan questions FIFA's possible Saudi Arabia sponsorship deal: 'It just doesn’t make sense'
USWNT star Alex Morgan is calling out FIFA over considering the Saudi Arabian tourism authority as a sponsor for the Women’s World Cup in July. On Wednesday, Morgan called the decision "bizarre," and added she "would not even be supported and accepted in [Saudi Arabia]," according to The Guardian.
Morgan is not the only person to criticize the possible sponsorship. Both the Australian and New Zealand soccer federations questioned the move. U.S. Soccer joined that chorus Wednesday, saying it supports "human rights and equity for all," per The Athletic.
Saudi Arabia has a history of documented and alleged human rights violations, which include bombing Yemen and mass executing prisoners. Women's rights are highly restricted in the country and homosexuality is illegal.
"Pretty much everyone has spoken out against that because morally, it just doesn’t make sense," Morgan added.
Morgan also offered up another path for the country to grow its presence within the game.
“I think that what Saudi Arabia can do is put efforts into their women’s team that was just formed only a couple of years ago and doesn’t even have a current ranking within the FIFA ranking system because of the few games that they’ve played. So that would be my advice to them. And I really hope that FIFA does the right thing.”
Saudi Arabia's possible involvement at the Women's World Cup could be interpreted as another instance of the country engaging in sportswashing. The practice involves using sports as a way to deflect or obscure a nation's legal, ethical or moral flaws. Saudi Arabia received similar criticism when it started up the LIV, a rival golf league of the PGA.
The country has funneled money into multiple sports in recent years, including Formula 1, horse racing and the English Premier League.
FIFA has not commented on the possible sponsorship with the Saudi Arabian tourism authority.