Chelsea boss Emma Hayes says ‘high-level conversations’ are needed to ensure safety of the players before agreeing on Saudi Arabia Women’s World Cup amid LGBTQ+ rights concerns
- Saudi Arabia has expressed interest in hosting Women’s World Cup in 2035
- Chelsea’s Emma Hayes questions the decision due to stance on LGBTQ+ rights
- Progress in Saudi Arabian women’s football, including a Premier League division
Emma Hayes has questioned the possibility of Saudi Arabia hosting a Women’s World Cup due to their stance on LGBTQ rights and insisted progress must be made before a decision is taken.
The Gulf kingdom, who have already launched a bid to host 2034 men’s World Cup and the AFC Women’s Asia Cup in 2026, announced their desire to bid for the Women’s World Cup in 2035 earlier this week.
Women’s football is starting to progress in the country following the launch of a national team last year and a Premier League division earlier this month. Two former Women’s Super League players – Ashleigh Plumptre and Leighanne Robe – recently signed for Al-Ittihad.
But there are concerns over their stance on LGBTQ rights, with homosexuality still criminalised.
Many female players are open about their sexuality and several spoke out against plans for the tourism authority Visit Saudi to sponsor the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand this year.
Emma Hayes has said that ‘high-level conversations are needed’ amid discussions surround the possibility of Saudi Arabia hosting the Women’s World Cup
FIFA scrapped the idea following a backlash and a similar row could ensue should Saudi Arabia be successful in their bid to host the tournament in 12 years’ time for the 2035 World Cup
Nigeria’s Ashleigh Plumptre has joined Saudi Arabia Women’s Premier League side Al-Ittihad
FIFA scrapped the idea following a backlash and a similar row could ensue should Saudi Arabia be successful in their bid to host the tournament in 12 years’ time.
‘Everybody has to be mindful that there’s going to be so many things that have to be addressed before a competition can be placed anywhere,’ Chelsea boss Hayes said.
‘To host a World Cup in Saudi, for sure there has to be some really high level conversations in and around ‘how do you see that working knowing your laws and your thoughts on homophobia?’
‘I would hope that the authorities are thinking of that and they’re representing everyone across the women’s game to make sure it’s safe for everybody to go and play but also that nobody’s going to be arrested for it [being LGBTQ] or nobody’s going to be dealt with in a different way.
‘So I think lots of work has to be done before a decision is made on that.’
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