The governing body of soccer in Australia, Football Australia has announced a new collaboration with the Sydney WorldPride festival, following criticism of FIFA for a prospective Saudi sponsorship for FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023.
The Women’s World Cup, which will take place in Australia and New Zealand from July 20 to August 20, is going to be sponsored by Visit Saudi, the travel agency of the Middle Eastern country.
A petition has been started to oppose the potential agreement because Saudi Arabia’s unwritten Islamic law forbids both homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Despite some recent advances, Saudi Arabia’s record on women’s rights has not improved and is still subject to harsh criticism.
Football Australia expressed its disappointment at not having been consulted and, together with New Zealand Football, wrote to FIFA to request clarification.
Football Australia has partnered with WorldPride Sydney, a 17-day carnival that runs through March 5, despite the continuing controversy. Throughout February 19’s Cup of Nations match versus Spain at the Western Sydney Stadium in Parramatta, it has organised an event with a pride-based theme.
Football Australia also intends to keep up its connection with Pride in Sport, which will include offering refresher training and educational programmes. Sarah Walsh, the organization’s director of women’s soccer, Women’s World Cup legacy, and inclusion recognized the value of diversity and inclusion for the national governing body.
Walsh, said, “We are committed as a sport to ensuring we create environments and spaces where all members of our family feel completely free to be their whole selves without fear. Over the last year we have demonstrated that commitment through our work with the LGBTQIA+ communities, Harmony Day activities, the launch of the CommBank ParaMatildas and becoming one of the first sports to add its support to the Uluru Statement of the heart. In 2023 we will continue our work of driving positive social change through sport and have recently hired a diversity and inclusion manager to assist in reviewing and updating our policies and procedures.
“Through our partnership with Sydney WorldPride and Pride in Sport, we are striving to confront and address behaviours that make LGBTQIA+ members of our football family feel less safe, equal and welcome. We aim to combat homophobia by increasing awareness of these behaviours and fostering acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community in football.”