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.

 

Yemen’s Huthis seize Sanaa state offices

Three years to end Israeli occupation in UN resolution

Iraq Kurds, coalition launch offensive to retake Sinjar

Saudi to carry on massive public spending

Key oil producers face uncertain outlook in 2015

Over $900 million needed to help Syria children

Saudi rules out oil output reduction

Dutch populist lawmaker to be tried for 'fewer Moroccans' vow

Outrage in Algeria over Islamist call for Algerian author's death

Somalia appoints new PM after bitter infighting

Blow to Israel: EU court removes Hamas from terror blacklist

Sharp rise in Syria passport applications

Turkey FM visit to Iran highlights Syria divide

UK troops mistreated Iraq detainees in 2004

Iran to Australia: We warned you about the gunman

From bikini to Jihad in Ceuta, Melilla

Tunisia votes Sunday in second round of presidential poll

Islamist militias launch air strike near key Libyan oil terminals

Egypt refers 312 Islamists to military courts

Turkey rejects EU criticism over media arrests

Kerry meets chief Palestinian negotiator

Saudi cleric sparks uproar for showing wife’s face

15,000 march against country’s ‘Islamisation’ in eastern Germany

Gulf stock markets tumble

Australia mourns Sydney cafe siege victims

Hostages flee as police storm Sydney café

Erdogan to EU: Mind your own business!

Syria PM in Iran for talks with key ally

22 Swiss jihadists fighting abroad

#illridewithyou: Australians stand in solidarity with Muslims

Sydney siege 'lone wolf' or IS-led attack?

EU support UN efforts for Aleppo ceasefire

Saudi policeman killed in Riyadh hostage-taking

Saudi king receives Jordan monarch

Palestinians push UN bid to end Israeli occupation

Hostages held in Sydney cafe, Islamic flag held up

Hamas stages show of strength to mark 27th anniversary

France 'neutralised' 200 jihadists in Sahel region of West Africa

Kerry in Rome ahead of Palestinian push at UN

Drive-by shooting kills two Egypt policemen in Sinai Peninsula

Libya pro-government forces push back Islamist fighters

Wave of arrests targets Gulen supporters in Turkey

Security Council fails and Bashir declares victory!

UAE calls on Arabs to invest in future amid ‘rapid changes’

Dawn collision kills more than 10 Egypt fishermen in Gulf of Suez