Saudi social reforms: Women attend soccer match for the first time

Women in the

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.

The stadiums were also fitted with female prayer areas and toilets, as well as separate entrances and auto parks for female spectators.

However, they were segregated in the stands from the male-only crowd with designated seating in the so-called "family section".

Female football fans entered a stadium in Saudi Arabia's western city of Jeddah on Friday, becoming the first women to attend a football match in the conservative kingdom.

The Kingdom's General Sports Authority announced in October that stadiums in Jeddah, Dammam, and Riyadh will be set up to accommodate families starting in 2018.

The "family section" is for female soccer fans and women accompanied by male family members.

Saleh al-Ziadi brought his three daughters to the game.

Ruwayda Ali Qassem, another Jeddah resident, called Friday a "historic day in the kingdom which culminates (in) ongoing fundamental changes".

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"I came with my father and my brother - we're fans of Al-Ahli", said university student Areej al-Ghamdi, adding that she had always cheered the club from home."This is the first time we'll be cheering for real, not just in front of the television", she told the Agence France-Presse.

The women entering the venue waited in long queues to be searched by women security personnel who wore orange vests over their black abayas, while inside the stadium another team directed them to their seats.

"Today, things have changed".

While many welcomed the decision to allow women into stadiums, others spoke out against it. "I'm rooting for the ladies - enjoy!"

After achieving the right to drive, it appears that women in Saudi Arabia are bent on extirpating the unfair rules prevailing in the country.

Ahead of the game, clubs took to Twitter to encourage women in attending the local match offering them traditional robes in team colours.

And the result of yesterday's game?

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