Jordan win Saudi Arabian-hosted WAFF women’s championship on penalties

March 1 – Jordan won the West Asian Football Federation (WAFF) Women’s Championship for a record sixth time defeating debutants Nepal on penalties in the final with hosts Saudi Arabia promising this was a first in many more tournaments to come. 

On Thursday, the Jordanians needed penalties to defend their crown against maiden finalists Nepal following a 2-2 draw. In the last four, Jordan had defeated Palestine with ease, 5-0, but in the tournament’s showcase match, they were pushed all the way before prevailing 5-3 in the shootout.

The West Asian Football Federation (WAFF) Women’s Championship was the latest chapter in Saudi Arabia’s drive to showcase and promote the women’s game. Organisers said this was the first-ever 11-a-side women’s tournament in the Arab Kingdom. Over 11 days, Jeddah staged the championship that saw the hosts compete with Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Nepal, Palestine, Syria, and Guam.

“This incredible milestone will be forever etched in Saudi football history as the first official 11-a-side women’s tournament hosted in the Kingdom – and it is one we will build from moving forward,” said Lamia Bahaian, vice president of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, in a statement.

“We promise that the 2024 WAFF Women’s Championship is the start of an exciting new era for professional women’s football in Saudi Arabia. Besides showcasing our hosting credentials to the region and wider world, it has paved the way for more competitions to make their way to our shores in the years ahead. For sure, this will be the first of many.”

The hosts bowed out of the tournament in the first round, losing all of their matches against Jordan, Lebanon and Guam. Saudi Arabia’s women’s national team played their first-ever match in 2021 and the team is supposed to project the greater freedom women enjoy in a country where women’s rights are restricted.

In its 2023 world report, Human Rights Watch wrote that “Despite some reforms, authorities continue to implement a male guardianship system. In March, Saudi lawmakers passed the country’s first codified personal status law. Despite Saudi authorities’ promises for a “comprehensive” and “progressive” personal status law, the law entrenches discriminatory provisions on women in marriage, divorce, inheritance, and decisions relating to children.”

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