|Jeddah Stadium - no room for women|
The much-awaited match between local team Al Ittihad and the Riyadh-based squad of Al Hilal in the Crown Prince Cup competition was a crowd puller, but the authorities wanted to make sure no woman could enter the 60,000-seat Jawhara Stadium at the King Abdullah Sports City.
Security was beefed up at the main gates and spectators had to show their identity cards to be allowed inside, Saudi daily Makkah reported on Wednesday.
The unusual step was taken after a woman was able this month to sneak past stadium guards to watch a match between Al Ittihad and Al Shabab before she was spotted and referred to the police for questioning. Actually, she was arrested, and, I believe, is still in jail.
|Woman in disguise watching soccer. Heaven forbid!|
The woman, in her 20s, said she did not have any problem buying her ticket online and that she arrived early and chose a place where she would not be in the middle of a crowd.
Police spokesman Atti al-Qurashi said security spotted her at the stadium "deliberately disguised" in male attire to avoid detection, reported the state-linked news website Twasul.
Okaz reported Sunday that police questioned the woman, who is in her twenties, for "impersonating" a man by wearing pants, a long-sleeve top, a hat and sunglasses. Most women in Saudi Arabia cover their hair and face with a veil known as the niqab and all women are required to wear a loose black dress known as the abaya in public.
The paper said the woman has been in police custody since Friday and is being held at a center for girls in the western province of Mecca. No charges have been raised so far.
|City of Jeddah on the Red Sea|
Saudi Arabia has a very strict policy regarding female attendance at sports matches. Permissions are needed to allow foreign women to watch the matches in which their home teams play. There is talk of assigning a section of the stadium for 'families'. This would be a good time for that to happen.
Football is highly popular in the kingdom and fans follow with great interest the British, Italian and Spanish leagues.