Female football fans had the rare opportunity to enter a stadium in Saudi Arabia’s western city of Jeddah on Friday. They were the first set of women to attend a football match in the conservative kingdom. A lot of hijab-wearing ladies were spotted flaunting green and white scarves to fly their team colours, were seen on queue in their bid to enter into the stadium.
The women were pictured at the entrance of the stadium with their children at the point where signs are posted to indicate an entrance for families.
About 10,000 were allocated for women and families in King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah for the domestic league match between al-Ahly and al-Baten – one of three games that Saudi authorities said women would be allowed to attend this month.
Other matches that have been approved will be on Saturday in the capital Riyadh and on January 18 in the eastern city of Dammam.
At least 1,200 tickets have been bought by women and families for Friday’s game, Saudi newspaper Okaz reported, citing a sales official.
“We expect the sales to rise in the hours ahead of the match,” said Adel Kabli, the operating manager of e-ticket vendor Makani.
Lots of souvenirs targeted were sold at the stadium at great discounts to attract women supporters, Saudi media reported.
Football is the number one sport in Saudi Arabia, where the national team qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The Saudi General Sports Authority, a state agency, in October announced that three stadiums, up to now male-only facilities, would be prepared to be ready for families, including the allocation of special places for seating and entrances.
Before the in September, Saudi King Salman bin Abdelaziz announced that women would be allowed to drive starting from June, a move that ended a very long ban on women driving in the Holy Kingdom.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is believed to have initiated the policy that allows women to have more freedom in the country with the purpose of opening up the country and then revamping the international image of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.