Saudi women attend soccer match for first time

Fans watch a match at the King Abdullah Sports City stadium in Jeddah.

Story highlights

  • Three stadiums across kingdom open to women
  • Saudi crown prince has instituted major reforms

(CNN)Female soccer fans in Saudi Arabia attended their first match ever Friday at the King Abdullah Sports City stadium in Jeddah.

The game was the first time a major sporting event was open to women in the kingdom.
    The easing of the strict gender segregation was announced in October 2017 as part of the ambitious reforms by Mohammed bin Salman, the 32-year-old crown prince.
    The decree opened the King Fahd stadium in Riyadh, King Abdullah Sport City stadium in Jeddah, and Prince Mohammed Bin Fahd stadium in Dammam to women and families. All three stadiums were previously male-only.
    Host club Al-Ahli FC delighted fans with a 5-0 triumph.
    Saudi Arabia still adheres to some of the strictest interpretations of Sunni Islam in the world but has seen liberal reforms recently. The change in policy followed the historic decree in September 2017 allowing women to drive, beginning this summer.
    Females spectators on Friday cheered on two of the teams in the Saudi Professional League, Al-Ahli F.C. and Al-Batin F.C. Al-Ahli won 5-0.
    Female fans sat in a section designated for families.