Saudi Women Could Get Chance in Football Stadium

Jeddah, Jan 29 (TAG) – For the first time the conservative kingdom of Saudi Arabia is thinking about lifting the ban on women from watching football games. They reportedly could get chance to attend the matches along with men inside stadiums.

A government-run Arabic language Al-Sharq newspaper quoted the unnamed official source as saying that women will be able to watch the matches in a new facility that will be completed in 2014 in the western Red Sea city of Jeddah.
The source said that the new stadium will include a family section with private booths and balconies for women who wish to attend the games.
Previously, Saudi women barred from attending games due to the kingdom’s strict policy of forbidding the mixing of genders. Many have condemned the ban and called it to be a case of discrimination against women. Why should someone not get to enjoy the game and be allowed inside the stadium based on gender?
In 2006, the Saudi authorities had given in to international pressure and had allowed the women to watch a game that was played against Sweden. Saudi Arabia has backed down on barring women from attending an international match with Sweden in Riyadh as there were protests in the Scandinavian country.
Recently, a proposal has been submitted to the competent authorities to admit women into packed stadiums during soccer matches and such a move may come into force by next year, another Arabic daily Shams said.
Citing unnamed sources in the federation, the paper said that women could be allowed into some major stadiums in such big cities as Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam as a first step to fully lift the ban on women.
“The authorities are studying ways to implement such a move to ensure there will be no harassment of women inside stadiums. They are also considering designating special entrances for women at stadiums as well as places which are reserved only for women and families away from men,” the paper said.
“The sources said the new policy could be enforced in the next football season and that it is intended to cope with developments in global football club. They noted that the new policy follows reports that Saudi Arabia has been excluded from hosting international sport events, including the world club cup because women are not allowed to watch matches inside stadiums.”
The move has been received well by some, but women’s rights advocates in the country continue to demand more reform and change in the country where women were only last year given the right to run in local elections and still cannot drive.
“I think we are seeing some opening ups of the country, but we still want more changes to give us women a life to do things in public,” said Noha, a university student in Riyadh as quoted by Bikyamasr.com. 
“In order to hang out with friends in public it is very hard and always people are watching. It is not a good situation.”
International and local rights groups in the region have demanded the Kingdom give more rights to women in the country, but the government, despite inklings of change, has only recently began to talk about women’s issues.
Saudi Arabia's strict interpretation of Islam prohibits unrelated men and women from mingling. Women and men in Saudi Arabia remain highly segregated and are restricted in how they are allowed to mix in public.[]

Saudi Women Could Get Chance in Football Stadium Saudi Women Could Get Chance in Football Stadium Reviewed by Nurdin Hasan on January 29, 2012 Rating: 5

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