Saudi women to attend football matches for the first time

The first football games open to women will take place this weekend

Saudi women are preparing to attend football games for the first time after a ban on families is lifted this weekend.

The kingdom’s General Sports Authority (GSA) announced the move in October as part of a series of reforms announced in recent months including the lifting of a female driving ban and the opening of cinemas for the first time in decades.

At the time it said three stadiums in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam were being prepared to accommodate families.

Read: Saudi women to be allowed into sports stadiums

Jeddah’s King Abdullah Stadium will host the first football match open to women on Friday, January 12, with a game between Al-Ahli and Al-Batin, according to Arab News.

Al-Hilal’s match against Al-Ittihad at Riyadh’s King Fahd International Stadium on Saturday, January 13 and Al-Ettifaq’s game against Al-Faisaly at Dammam’s Prince Mohamed bin Fahd Stadium on Thursday, January 18 will also be open to women.

Preparation has taken place at each stadium to accommodate families, with several having already hosted women for one-off events including the Saudi national day celebrations last year.

Read: Saudi women to join national day celebrations in sports stadium for first time

GSA undersecretary of technical affairs and investment Abdul Rahman Al-Qadheeb told Riyadh Daily in December that the first phase of the plans would include an assessment of operations at the three stadiums before others across the kingdom are opened to women.

“After the evaluation process, all the negatives and positives will be studied and then will be circulated to all stadiums,” he was quoted as saying. “There are arrangements for all three stadiums to determine the final settings.”