fresh Sound at Saudi Soccer Game: Women Cheering via the Stands

When the first goal was scored during the soccer game in Saudi Arabia on Friday, a fresh noise joined the ruckus from the stands: the sound of women cheering.

from the soccer-obsessed nevertheless ultraconservative Islamic kingdom, the match between the local teams Al-Ahli as well as Al-Batin in Jidda was the 1st time which women were allowed to attend a game at a public stadium, a fresh step from the government’s efforts to loosen gender restrictions.

Female fans of the team Al-Ahli took selfies ahead of the match in Jidda, Saudi Arabia, on Friday. Women were allowed to attend the public event for the 1st time.CreditTasneem Alsultan for The fresh York Times

Saudi Arabia has long been one of the earth’s most restrictive places for women, where a combination of religion, social custom as well as government regulation has dictated what they wear as well as barred them via driving, holding a range of jobs as well as traveling as they wish.

nevertheless these rules have begun to change under King Salman, who became the Saudi monarch in 2015, as well as are driven by his son, Mohammed bin Salman, 32, the country’s crown prince.

Princess Reema bint Bandar, the head of the Saudi Federation for Community Sports, third via left, attended the match.CreditTasneem Alsultan for The fresh York Times

Prince Mohammed has removed powers via the religious police, placed women in prominent positions they would certainly have never held before as well as vowed to lift the ban on women driving in June.

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

Haifa Alharbi, 30, had previously attended soccer games in Saudi Arabia, dressed as a boy.CreditTasneem Alsultan for The fresh York Times

The decision to allow women to attend soccer games — albeit in “family sections” which keep them separate via the all-male sections — is usually part of these efforts. the item 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 tiny sign of change: the country’s first car showroom dedicated to female customers was opened.

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

Men as well as women seated together from the families section cheered.CreditTasneem Alsultan for The fresh York Times

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

Soccer is usually very common in Saudi Arabia, with many fans of international as well as local leagues, nevertheless female enthusiasts long had to content themselves with watching their favorite teams on television.

Although tickets were only 20 riyals ($5.33), the family section for Friday’s match was less than half full.CreditTasneem Alsultan for The fresh York Times

Many women excited about the fresh ability to watch live games — as well as men opposed to This kind of — took to social media on Friday, writing under the Arabic hash tags #FamiliesEnteringStadiums as well as #ThePeopleWelcomeWomenEnteringStadiums.

“This kind of is usually more than women’s rights,” Fatimah S. Baeshen, a spokeswoman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington, said in a Twitter post, adding, “I’m rooting for the ladies.”

A female usher at the stadium.CreditTasneem Alsultan for The fresh York Times

“I do not see which letting women enter stadiums is usually wrong or forbidden,” Manayer al-Qahtani also wrote on Twitter. “To the contrary, the item does not go against religion nor against the customs as well as traditions. Many girls follow soccer as well as we gather at game time. the item is usually a legal right for us.”

nevertheless some people used the hash tag to criticize the event, writing which the place of women is usually in their homes, focusing on their children as well as preserving their faith, as well as not at a stadium where male crowds may curse as well as get rowdy.

Leaving the stadium after the match.CreditTasneem Alsultan for The fresh York Times

The kingdom’s stadium had not been built with women in mind, so modifications were made to ensure which they could attend matches. The government’s General Sports Authority said This kind of week which three stadiums had so far been modified to accommodate women through the addition of private sections for women as well as their male relatives, female bathrooms as well as even prayer areas.

Although tickets were only 20 riyals ($5.33), the family section for Friday’s match was less than half full. nevertheless anticipation for the game was high on social media. People shared photos of female fans preparing to enter the stadium.

the item was a far cry via 2015, when a Saudi woman who tried to attend a soccer game in Jidda was arrested after she was spotted by security officers wearing pants, a long-sleeve top, a hat as well as sunglasses to avoid detection, local news outlets reported.

Women will also attend a game on Saturday from the national stadium from the capital, Riyadh, as well as a game on Thursday from the city of Dammam.

On Friday, Al-Ahli trounced Al-Batin 5-0 from the Premier League match, according to the Saudi Gazette.

Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, a member of the royal family, attended the match as well as said on Twitter:

“Today, you brought happiness to every Saudi family as well as woman who attended the first game. This kind of is usually a historic moment for the Kingdom.”

A type of This kind of article appears in print on , on Page A4 of the fresh York edition with the headline: fresh Sound at Soccer Matches in Saudi Arabia: Women’s Cheers. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe