FIFA’s Controversial Sponsorship Deal with Saudi Arabia: A Deepening of Ties

In a move that has raised eyebrows and sparked controversy, FIFA announced a sponsorship deal with Saudi Arabia’s state oil firm Aramco. This partnership further solidifies the already close ties between FIFA and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The deal, which runs through 2027, includes sponsorship of the upcoming men’s World Cup in 2026, which will be co-hosted by the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Additionally, the deal encompasses the 2027 Women’s World Cup, with the hosts of that tournament set to be decided in the upcoming month.

While the financial details of the sponsorship deal were not disclosed, it is believed to be one of the most lucrative deals in FIFA’s history in terms of average annual value. This partnership could also potentially include sponsorship of the inaugural 32-team Club World Cup, slated to be hosted in the United States next year. FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who has cultivated a close relationship with Saudi Arabia and its Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has been instrumental in forging this partnership.

The decision to award Saudi Arabia the hosting rights for the 2034 World Cup has been mired in controversy. The bidding process, which was unexpectedly opened last October, seemed tailor-made for Saudi Arabia to emerge as the sole candidate. Only FIFA member federations in Asia and Oceania were permitted to compete, effectively shutting out other potential contenders. Saudi Arabia’s swift confirmation as the host country by the end of the month raised suspicions about the transparency and fairness of the selection process.

The Visit Saudi Tourist Board’s Limited Involvement

The Visit Saudi tourist board’s involvement in previous FIFA events has been limited. While the board was a minor sponsor of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, it was notably absent from the 2023 Women’s World Cup due to objections from organizers in Australia and New Zealand. This points to the contentious nature of Saudi Arabia’s increasing influence and presence in global sporting events.

FIFA’s sponsorship deal with Saudi Arabia and the subsequent decision to award the kingdom the hosting rights for the 2034 World Cup have stirred up significant controversy within the football community. The close relationship between FIFA and Saudi Arabia, as evidenced by this deal, raises questions about the governing body’s commitment to transparency and fair play. The implications of this partnership will undoubtedly be closely scrutinized in the coming years.

FIFA World Cup

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