First Published: 2013-05-21

 

Saudi Arabia may grant stadium access for women ‘soon’

 

Ahmed Eid raises possibility that 15% of King Abdullah stadium in Jeddah could be made into family boxes, where women could watch matches.

 

Middle East Online

Women's sport in kingdom is virtually non-existent

RIYADH - Women could be allowed in to football stadiums in Saudi Arabia in the near future after the head of the country's football federation said he was in favour of the idea.

Ahmed Eid said such access could be granted "soon", raising the possibility that 15 percent of the under-construction King Abdullah stadium in Jeddah could be made into family boxes, where women could watch matches.

The stadium is due to be finished next year.

But the subject immediately triggered a wide-ranging debate in the Saudi media, with unfavourable opinion forcing the official to issue a clarification that he was merely expressing a personal opinion.

Ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia, which applies a strict interpretation of Islamic or Sharia law, bans men and women mixing in public and access for women in public areas.

Women's sport in the kingdom is virtually non-existent, although some young girls do take part in private schools under certain conditions.

"The question is the responsibility of the relevant authorities," said Eid. "The decision to allow women into stadiums is not one for any of the sporting federations."

The head of Saudi sport, Prince Nawaf bin Faisal, said only that he had nothing to add to Eid's clarification.

Saudi Arabia recently saw the first woman in a sporting arena when she and one of her "legal guardians" were at a show-jumping competition in the eastern province of Al-Ahsa.

A "legal guardian" is a Saudi woman's close relative without whom she cannot travel overseas or to a public place where men may be present.

Some Saudi women supporters have also travelled to Kuwait to cheer on their football club, Al-Fath, in a regional competition.

But they were turned down when they asked to be able to watch the return leg at home.

In January, South Korean and Japanese expatriate women were allowed to watch matches in a Asian handball competition and female Saudi journalists covered the event.

Saudi Arabia is hoping to organise the finals of football's Asian Cup in 2019.

Should they be successful, they will be required to reserve spaces for women supporters, according to the rules of organisers, the Asian Football Confederation.

The debate comes after a young Dubai-based Saudi woman, Raha Muharraq, on Saturday became the first from the kingdom to scale the world's highest peak, Mount Everest.

Last year, Saudi Arabia came under international pressure to allow two female athletes to compete in the Olympic Games in London.

The International Olympic Committee allowed a judo player and a runner to take part with their heads and body covered, in compliance with Sharia law.

 

Saudi mosque attack intended to fan sectarian tension

Israeli deputy FM: 'All of it is ours'

Obama offers Tunisia closer security ties

IS fighters attack Iraq forces east of Ramadi

Israel solicits Platini to sway FIFA

Sudan's Islamists protest against el-Sisi

Islamic State claims Saudi mosque bombing

Islamic State reinforces ‘caliphate’ with control of borders

Iraqi forces to launch Ramadi offensive

Tunis asks Rome to extradite terror suspect

Suicide bomb attack on Saudi Shiite mosque

Saudi-led coalition warplanes pound Sanaa outskirts

Shebab gunmen raid Kenya village

Kuwait businessman Khorafi dies at 75

Yemen air strikes continue as Iran calls for talks

Israeli court orders release of Khalida Jarrar

Netanyahu meets with Arab leader Ayman Odeh

U.S. sanctions two companies linked to Iran's plane purchases

Iran supports Yemen talks, denounces foreign interference

IS militants call for attacks on Egypt's judges

11 killed in fresh Libya violence

Assad regime losses in Syria

Obama looks to bolster Tunisia's democratic gains

Turkey opposition unveils plan to build new 'mega-city' in Anatolia

Iraqi prime minister seeks Russian support against Islamic State

Iraq's Sunni tribes feel distrust towards Baghdad after Ramadi fall

Morocco illegal migrant arrest fuels Italy row

Qatar ‘failing to deliver’ on promised labour reforms

US to sell bombs, missiles to Israel, helicopters to Saudis

IS jihadists in full control of Syria's Palmyra

Yemen government wants rebel pullback before joining Geneva talks

Morocco King names four new ministers in second reshuffle

Gaza reconstruction going ‘far more slowly than expected’

France kills two jihadist chiefs in Sahel region

Clashes with ‘Islamic State’ rage on near Libya city of Sirte

Protests in Tunisia phosphate-producing region intensify

Iran aid ship to dock in Djibouti for inspection

Israel to face FIFA suspension bid

Letters of Bin Laden reveal accurate fear of surveillance

Yemen talks to open May 28 in Geneva

‘Islamic State’ fighters take control of Palmyra northern sector

Palestinian driver shot by Israeli police

New Egypt justice minister sworn in after judge's gaffe

IS, Syria regime locked in fierce battles near Palmyra

Rajoub: Conditions not ready for Israel-Palestine "match for peace"