Football is very popular in Saudi Arabia, amongstmen and women. Two years ago Saudi designer Rania Khoger created a line of colorful abayas to commemorate the world cup.
There are Saudi women’s soccer teams, but they have to practise and play in secret. Women play soccer and basketball in underground leagues around Saudi Arabia
Rawh Abdullah is captain of the all-women soccer club Al Tahaddi, Arabic for challenge. Since 2006, when the club was established, 25 team members meet four times a week to play after turning one of the players’ gardens into a field. The 28-year-old Abdullah, who serves as a coach and the captain on the team, charges each member 1,300 riyals ($350) annual fee to play. The money she gets covers players outfits, balls, makeshift goals, some fitness equipment and partly also trips to the port city of Jeddah or Dammam to play exhibition games or matches in the clandestine women’s league.
There are no written laws that prohibit women from participating in sports, but women are not allowed into stadiums, and they cannot rent athletic venues. There is no physical education for girls in public schools, and no women-only hours at swimming pools. The few gyms that admit women are too expensive for most to frequent.
Women cannot register sports clubs, league competitions and other female-only tournaments with the government. They are banned from entering all-male national trials, which makes it impossible for them to qualify for international competitions, including the Olympics.