Published: Sun, January 14, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

Saudi Arabian women allowed into football stadium for the first time

Saudi Arabian women allowed into football stadium for the first time

It was a historic day, as women in Saudi Arabia attended a football match for the first time, as part of reforms spearheaded by the kingdom's crown prince.

In a historic decision late a year ago, King Salman gave Saudi women the right to drive, abolishing an nearly three-decade ban based on religious reasons. "Ittihad fans, male and female, are the support of this club, and success is not complete without them coming together to serve this historic entity", the club tweeted.

In the stadium, keeping in mind the women spectators, a "family entrance" was created.

The stadium in the capital, Riyadh, will open to women on Saturday, followed by the western city of Dammam on Thursday. The women however had to enter through designated turnstiles for women and families. The "family section" is for female soccer fans and women accompanied by male family members. "I feel very proud because I am witness to this change".

According to the Saudi Gazette, Al-Ahli trounced Al-Batin 5-0 in the Premier League match.

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Some used the hashtag to share photos of female spectators wearing their team's colors in scarves thrown over their abayas.

The move is part of an easing of restrictions on women initiated by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the conservative Muslim country.

Set to inherit a country where more than half the population is under 25 years old and hungry for change, the young crown prince has looked to boost his popularity by curbing almost four decades of deeply entrenched ultraconservative influence.

However, strict guardianship laws are still in place, which forbid women from marrying without a male relative's content, traveling overseas and securing a passport. The kingdom's stadium had not been built with women in mind, so modifications were made so that they could attend matches.

Saudi authorities announced on October 30, lifting the ban on women entering sports stadiums, allowing them to attend events in three stadiums as of 2018.

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