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.

 

Gaza civilian toll spiralling to above 800

Hezbollah chief speaks out on Gaza

Sadly no survivors on Air Algerie flight crash

Two rival Islamic states in Syria power struggle

Ordeal of ‘apostasy’ woman ends with departure from Sudan

Crete protest against Syria chemicals destruction in Mediterranean

74 killed in IS assault on Syria regime territory

Iran confirms arrest of Washington Post correspondent

Somali 'Shebab commanders' killed in AU offensive

Paris: survivors of Air Algerie jet crash 'unlikely'

Jordan shots down drone near Syria border

UN urges Europe to tackle Mediterranean migrant crisis

From Israel with ‘virus’: Death threat letter reaches Palestinian mission in France

Another bloody day as Israel targets civilians in UN-run school

‘Islamic State’ launches multiple attacks on Syria army

Attack on Egypt army post bears fingerprints of foreign intelligence

Harassment of Christians escalates in Islamist-run Sudan

Air Algerie plane goes missing over Mali

Algeria plane with many French nationals on board vanishes over Mali

Iraqi protesters denounce treatment of minority Christians

Iraq elects Kurdish politician as federal president

Russia begins supplying military equipment to Iraq

Air Algerie plane contact lost over west Africa

South Sudan warring sides to resume peace talks

Baghdad closer to breaking political limbo

Spectacular attack on Iraq prisoner convoy

Gaza death toll passes 700 mark

Mladenov pleads for UN help to end IS 'atrocities' in Iraq

Hamas hails suspension of Israel flights as 'great victory'

Lebanon army records first case of desertion to join Syria Nusra Front

Iraq gunmen kill female former candidate for parliament

Kerry cites ‘some steps forward’ in Gaza truce efforts

Turkey hunts for nine intelligence officers in wire-tapping probe

Suspension of hostilities in Gaza to allow medical assistance

Assassination of famed Somali musician and lawmaker

Sisi defends Egypt in trying to broker Gaza truce

Syria welcomes nomination of Staffan de Mistura as new UN envoy

Iraq lawmakers stall presidential election as violence yields grim crop of bodies

Yemen president calls for unity

Etihad helps Jet Airways return to profit

Is Tunisia returning to old regime censorship?

Qatar emir in unannounced visit to Saudi

HRW: Iraq air strikes wreaking awful toll on civilians

Kuwait revokes pro-opposition TV, newspaper licences

Twin suicide bombing shakes Libya's Benghazi