Saudi football chiefs appoint first women board members

Saudi Arabia’s Football Federation (SAFF) appointed women to the board for the first time in the kingdom’s history on Wednesday, and also named a new president.

Adwa Al-Arifi was appointed in February as the first woman committee member in the history of SAFF.

Adwa Al-Arifi was appointed in February as the first woman committee member in the history of SAFF.

The two women are Adwa al-Arifi and Reham Al-Onaizan and the new president is Qusay bin Abdulaziz al-Fawaz.

Saudi authorities said al-Fawaz was the sole candidate who met all conditions for a post left empty after Adel Ezzat resigned on Aug. 19 to run for the presidency of the Asian Football Confederation.

Al-Arifi was, Saudi media has reported, appointed in February as “the first woman committee member” in the history of SAFF.

She was part of a seven-member corporate social responsibility committee and holds a degree in business administration.

Al-Onaizan’s Linkedin page says she was “corporate performance and initiative management Senior Manager at the (Saudi) General Entertainment Authority’.

Qusay al-Fawaz is close to the head of Saudi Arabia’s general authority for sports head Turki Al-Sheikh — who in turn is close to the kingdom’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who has been making social and economic reforms.

These included allowing women to enter a football stadium to watch a match for the first time in January, an easing of rules separating the sexes.

However, his reforms have been paralleled by a crackdown on all dissent, with 12 women’s rights campaigners arrested over the summer — eight of them women.

Al-Fawaz has served as president of the Saudi Chess Federation and was a member of the team that oversaw Saudi Arabia’s participation in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

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Saudi Arabia has long been a marginal player in football’s ruling classes, unlike its Gulf rival Qatar — set to host the 2022 World Cup — with which it is embroiled in a year-long diplomatic spat.

But the oil-rich kingdom is in the middle of a major push for global influence in football governance.

SOURCE: Agency report

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