Saudi women finally allowed into games
Forget Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona, the biggest move in the world of football this month will come on Friday as women step inside a Saudi Arabian stadium to watch a professional game from the stands for the first time in the country’s history. Al-Ahli will be trying to close the gap at the top of the Saudi Premier League behind Al-Hilal with a win over Al-Batin but more attention will be paid to the make up of those in the crowd.
Until now, in the country ranked by the World Economic Forum in 2016 as 141th out of 144 on gender parity, women have been forced to watch the beautiful game on television. Those caught inside a stadium, as one woman was in December 2014, were arrested. The Saudi government announced last October that the long-standing ban was coming to an end, in at least in three stadiums to start with. Arenas in Riyadh, Jeddah and the eastern city of Dammam will have special sections for female fans.