Saudi Women Attend, Cheer at Live Soccer Match for the First Time


The Saudi Ministry of Information confirmed last week that authorities had scheduled three professional league games in three different stadiums where women could observe live from stadiums in January.

Women in black abayas and fluorescent orange vests stood at the gates at King Abdullah Stadium, welcoming people into the family section that, for the first time in Saudi Arabia, allowed women to attend a men's football match.

The new measure which started Friday comes after Riyadh announced it was lifting a ban prohibiting them from driving, as well as reopening cinemas. The stadiums have also been fitted with female restrooms and separate entrances and parking lots for female spectators.

The Saudi government said last week women would be allowed to attend a second match on Saturday and a third next Thursday.

"I am very proud to be a witness of this massive change". This is more than women's rights: today's match between Al-Ahli and Al-Batin, and the ones to follow, are opportunities for families to come together and enjoy KSA's national sport - soccer!

"We are collecting evidence against the fugitives overseas", said the prosecutor.

Women could attend the match after strict gender segregation was eased by authority in October past year. Still in place, however, are guardianship laws that prevent women from traveling overseas, obtaining a passport or marrying without a male relative's consent.

It follows a series of reforms meant to modernise the country.

"As we speak; Saudi women fans are entering soccer stadiums!"

In 2015, a Saudi woman who tried to attend a soccer game in Jiddah was arrested after local media said she was spotted by security officers "deliberately disguised" in trousers, a long-sleeve top, a hat and sunglasses to avoid detection.

Around 300 women attended a local football game in the Saudi city of Jiddah on Friday, in a historic first for the deeply conservative Islamic nation.