September 21 – Saudi Arabia drew 0-0 with Malaysia to kick off the second edition of the Women’s International Friendly Tournament in the Arab Kingdom.
It is just the second time the kingdom has an international women’s tournament as it builds its credentials for its 2026 Asian Women’s Cup bid. The hosts will play Pakistan in their second Group B match on Sunday. Laos, Bhutan and Lebanon feature in Group A.
Earlier this year, the first edition united Saudi Arabia, Comoros, Mauritius and Pakistan with the hosts claiming the trophy. On the back of winning the competition, the Saudi women’s national team entered the FIFA ranking for the first time.
It was only last year that Saudi Arabia played their first-ever women’s match when they defeated the Seychelles 2-0.
Saudi Arabia remains one of the most restrictive countries in the world for women. In its 2022 report Human Rights Watch wrote that “despite recent important women’s rights reforms, including allowing women over 21 to obtain passports and travel abroad without a guardian’s permission, Saudi women still must obtain a male guardian’s approval to get married, leave prison, or obtain certain healthcare. Women also continue to face discrimination in relation to marriage, family, divorce, and decisions relating to children, including child custody. Men can still file cases against daughters, wives, or female relatives under their guardianship for “disobedience,” which have previously resulted in arrest, and forcible return to their male guardian’s home or imprisonment.”
The Saudi state has however pivoted to football, including the women’s game, to improve its reputation and present itself as more modern and tolerant.
The tournament will draw to a close on September 30.
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