‘World Cup clubs in Saudi Arabia blatant form of sportswashing’

‘World Cup clubs in Saudi Arabia blatant form of sportswashing’
The King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh

NOS Football

The allocation of the World Cup for clubs to Saudi Arabia has caused great outrage at Amnesty International. Which argues that world soccer federation FIFA has thereby once again shown that it disdains even its own human rights policy.

The 20th edition of the global club tournament is at the end of this year. Real Madrid captured the 2022 world title last Saturday in Rabat, Morocco. That it did not happen until 2023 was due to the shuffling of last year’s Nations World Cup, which was exceptionally held in November and December. That is usually the period for the club tournament.

‘FIFA scorns own policy’

Saudi Arabia, where Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman rules with a hard hand, is widely criticized from around the world for ignoring human rights. Amnesty points out that freedom of expression is severely curtailed, executions and corporal punishment are regularly carried out, and women have far fewer rights than men.

Frenkie de Jong takes a corner kick at the King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh

That a country like Saudi Arabia of all places, which incidentally is also in the race to host the 2030 World Cup for country teams, gets to host a top event like the World Cup for clubs is an eyesore for Amnesty.

“FIFA has once again ignored the atrocious human rights record of a Gulf state,” said Stephen Cockburn on behalf of the human rights organization, which has also previously spoken out vehemently against the World Cup in Qatar. “In doing so, the association also disregards its own human rights policy and is complicit in a blatant form of sportswashing.”

Women’s World Cup sponsorship deal

By the term sportswashing, Amnesty refers to the attempt by regimes to boost their international image through the organization of major sporting events.

Earlier this month it was announced that FIFA has signed a sponsorship agreement with Visit Saudi, Saudi Arabia’s tourism agency, for the Women’s World Cup. That tournament is from July 20 to August 20 in Australia and New Zealand. That deal also sparked anger.

Last month, both the battle for the Spanish and Italian Supercup were finished at the King Fahd Stadium in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Earlier we made the explainer below about sports and politics and the phenomenon of sportswashing:

Are politics and sports really separate worlds?

Kayleigh Williams