Published: Sun, January 14, 2018
World | By Camille Rivera

Saudi women enter stadium to watch soccer for the first time

Saudi women enter stadium to watch soccer for the first time

"When you give women the chance to share attending game with men, this first of all reinforces allowing women to participate in matches, and secondly gives support to the team and the players, so that everyone, the whole community, shares the games with them", said Faisal bin Sibhan, an attendee. The women however had to enter through designated turnstiles for women and families.

Lamya Khaled Nasser, a 32-year-old football fan from Jeddah, told AFP she was proud and looking forward to the match.

"This event proves that we are heading for a prosperous future".

Ruwayda Ali Qassem, another Jeddah resident, said it was a "historic day in the kingdom which culminates (in) ongoing fundamental changes".

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"I am proud and extremely happy for this development", she said.

Friday's match was the first in a series that will be open to women: a second is due to take place on Saturday and a third on January 18.

The women entered the King Abdullah Stadium through a special gate, with female security guards wearing orange vests searching the visitors at the entrance. It prepared for the historic match by tweeting an image featuring a woman's face painted in gold, the club's color.

The kingdom has also announced that starting in June women will be allowed to drive, lifting the world's only ban on female drivers.

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The Saudi General Sports Authority made a statement that it is ready to make all the compulsory preparations to generate an attractive sports ambiance for families and to make sure their privacy.

The female spectators, segregated in the "family section" of the stands, stood and cheered when local players scored goals.

Females were in attendance at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah to witness Al-Ahli defeat Al-Batin 5-0.

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