A potential Saudi sponsor at the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup has been met with opposition ©Getty Images

A petition has been launched in opposition to Visit Saudi, the tourism board for Saudi Arabia, sponsoring the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, due to the nation's poor human rights record for women and LGBTQ+ people.

Executive coach and lawyer Madeleine Shaw said she created the petition when the reports of a deal for the tournament came out.

"I am the mother of a 14-year-old soccer playing daughter and we have tickets to some World Cup matches and we were so excited to be part of something so positive," said Shaw, as reported by Women's Agenda.

"When I saw this news I felt it physically, like a kick in the guts - I just couldn't believe a country that would treat us as children for our adult lives is getting the benefit of association with an event that celebrates the strengths and achievements of women.

"Also, their position on LGBTQIA+ people, given that they imprison or execute people for not being straight, is appalling. 

"It's just not OK. 

"The hypocrisy of FIFA in taking this money is mind-boggling."

Australia and New Zealand are to host the FIFA Women's World Cup ©Getty Images
Australia and New Zealand are to host the FIFA Women's World Cup ©Getty Images

So far, the petition has received 10,000 signatures.

The World Cup is scheduled to take place in Australia and New Zealand from July 20 to August 20 this year.

Amnesty International Australia has condemned any potential Saudi sponsorship.

"It would be quite the irony for Saudi's tourism body to sponsor the largest celebration of women’s sport in the world when you consider that, as a woman in Saudi Arabia, you can't even have a job without the permission of your male guardian," said Amnesty International Australia campaigner Nikita White.

"The Saudi authorities have a horrendous record of human rights abuses - including cracking down on women's rights defenders.

"In recent years we've heard a lot about the release of activists from prison in Saudi Arabia including the women who campaigned for the right to drive, but people who are critical of the authorities and human rights defenders continue to be imprisoned following unfair trials.

"The campaign of so-called reform, leader Mohammed Bin Salman has been on is nothing more than a publicity stunt to try to diversify the economy. 

"The Saudi authorities sponsoring the Women’s World Cup would be a textbook case of sportwashing."

Alex Morgan has been a staunch opponent to a Saudi sponsor ©Getty Images
Alex Morgan has been a staunch opponent to a Saudi sponsor ©Getty Images

United States women's national team great Alex Morgan criticised any deal with the country too.

"I think it's bizarre that FIFA has looked to have a Visit Saudi sponsorship for the Women's World Cup when I, myself, Alex Morgan, would not even be supported and accepted in that country," said Morgan to reporters.

New Zealand Football and Football Australia wrote to FIFA in a joint statement saying they were "shocked and disappointed" at the reports.

Saudi Arabia's liberalising of women's rights has been viewed as part of its sportwashing, an attempt to improve the country's image with tourism a major focus going forward in the oil-rich nation.

Major sporting events have taken place there including professional boxing matches, WWE's Crown Jewel shows and the Jeddah Grand Prix on the Formula One calendar.

At WWE's Crown Jewel shows, women's wrestlers were not allowed to compete initially, while Canadian wrestler Sami Zayn has been stopped from attending the shows due to his family's Syrian roots. 

Women's wrestlers were required to wear full body suits when women's matches were permitted.

Other criticisms include the censorship of journalists, with the state being linked to the assassination of Saudi journalist and anti-regime advocate Jamal Khashoggi.