New Sound at Saudi Soccer Game: Women Cheering From the Stands

These efforts are part of broader reforms he is leading to restructure the Saudi economy away from its dependence on oil, temper the kingdom’s religious rhetoric and provide new employment and entertainment options for the kingdom’s large youth population, including women.

The decision to allow women to attend soccer games — albeit in “family sections” that keep them separate from the all-male sections — is part of these efforts. It also seeks to get Saudi families to spend more of their money on entertainment at home instead of going abroad to have fun.

Ahead of the soccer game, there was another small sign of change: the country’s first car showroom dedicated to female customers was opened.

But for the soccer game, a former Saudi sports journalist shared a photo of female ushers preparing to greet the female fans and their families.

Women cheered as an announcer read the names of the players, and as the teams faced off.

Soccer is very popular in Saudi Arabia, with many fans of international and local leagues, but female enthusiasts long had to content themselves with watching their favorite teams on television.

Photo

Female fans of the team Al-Ahli lined up at a separate entrance in Jidda, Saudi Arabia, on Friday. Women were allowed to attend the public event for the first time.

Credit
Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

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