WOW! Saudi women will finally be allowed to watch soccer games in a sports stadium

A government-run Saudi newspaper reports that for the first time in the conservative Muslim country, women will be allowed to attend soccer matches in one of the country’s stadiums. But not until 2014.

FOX NEWS  Al-Sharq newspaper reported that women will be able to watch the matches in a new facility that will be completed in 2014 in the western port city of Jeddah.The officials say that the new stadium will include a family section with private cabins and balconies for women who wish to attend the games.

Saudi Arabia’s strict interpretation of Islam prohibits unrelated men and women from mingling. Women and men in Saudi Arabia remain highly segregated and are restricted in how they are allowed to mix in public.

Maybe someday, Saudi women will even get to play competitive soccer.

Mid East Soccer  Two Saudi women have established a women’s soccer and basketball team in the port city of Jeddah in a bid to persuade the government to allow and support women’s right to engage in competitive sports in a country that officially bans women from competitive sports.

Some clerics condemn women’s sports as corrupting and satanic and charge that it spreads decadence. They warn that running and jumping can damage a woman’s hymen and ruin her chances of getting married. In defiance, women have quietly been established soccer and other sports teams with the backing of more liberal members of the ruling Al Saud family as extensions of hospitals and health clubs. The International Olympic Committee has threatened Saudi Arabia with suspension if it does not create frameworks for women’s sports.

Their appearance on television however is sparking renewed debate about women’s rights to engage in sports and could put them on a collision course with conservatives who appear to have gained ground as a result of fears that the Arab popular revolt sweeping the Middle East and North Africa could spread to Saudi Arabia. The government’s recent upholding of a ban on women driving hardly bodes well for women wanting to play soccer and defend goal posts. A Saudi woman, Manal al-Sharif, was jailed for nine days in May for defying the ban on driving in the eastern town of Khobar.