Saudi women watch men's soccer in stadiums for first time

Saudi women watch men's soccer in stadiums for first time

However, according to reports, the women were segregated in the stands from the male-only crowd with designated seating in the so-called "family section" at King Abdullah Sports City stadium.

The first football match women are being allowed to attend is a clash between Saudi Premier League clubs Al-Ahli and Al-Batin in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.

However, the women had to sit in a "family section" of the stadium so that they would be separated from the male spectators.

At the stadium in Jeddah, female ushers were employed to greet the women fans and their families, who loudly cheered on the local team.

File from September 2016 of Saudi men and women at national day ceremonies at the King Fahd stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Among the first were a woman accompanied by a younger female and a girl.

Earlier on Friday, ahead of the football game, there was another small sign of change: the country's first auto showroom dedicated to female customers was opened. "I am very proud to be a witness of this massive change", she told the AFP news agency.

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Some people used the hashtag online to write that women should stay at home to focus on children and preserving their faith, and not at a stadium packed with males.

The kingdom, under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has launched a series of reforms on women's rights.

Despite the breakthrough, there are still a host of basic human rights denied to women without the permission of a man, including applying for a passport, travelling overseas, and getting married.

The country's large new stadiums were built with hundreds of millions of dollars when oil prices were almost double what they are now.

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.

Although the authorities made rare exceptions to let foreign women watch football games, no such exceptions had been made for Saudi citizens.

Both clubs also reportedly offered shirts at discount prices to attract female fans.

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