Saudi Arabia woman arrested after disguising herself as a man to watch a football match

Video footage purporting to show the woman sat in the away stand was posted to YouTube

A woman in Saudi Arabia has been arrested after she disguised herself as a man in an attempt to watch a football match.

Football stadiums in the kingdom are strictly designated as being for men only, while most aspects of daily life involve segregation of some kind.

According to the Saudi daily newspaper Sabq, police said the woman bought her ticket online and was able to bypass security by wearing “men’s clothing”, including a baseball cap and hoodie to cover her hair.

Footage posted to YouTube appeared to show the woman sat on her own in the away section of the Al-Jawhara stadium in the city of Jeddah. The match saw visiting Riyadh-based Al-Shabab beat Jeddah’s Al-Etihad 1-0.

But the woman, seen in the video wearing a scarf in Al-Shabab’s black and white colours, is unlikely to have seen the match to its conclusion.

In a police statement, spokesperson Atti al-Qurashi confirmed that the woman had been spotted by a security officer during the match.

Qurashi did not say whether any charges would be brought against the woman, but told Sabq that the details of her case had been “forwarded to the appropriate authorities”.

He also reminded readers of what he described as “the need for compliance with the regulations and instructions issued by the authorities with regard to this matter”.

In the comments underneath the YouTube video, a number of users said they “hope she is imprisoned for a long time”, while one described her as a “jewel in the stands”.

The footage has been widely circulated by social media users in the Gulf, and comes after a high-profile Riyadh-based campaign to challenge Saudi Arabia’s status as the only country in the world that doesn’t allow women to drive.

While the kingdom’s ban on its own women attending sports events is strictly enforced, it was recently forced to lift it for foreign women during the Asian Champions League, when Western Sydney Wanderers beat Al Hilal with just 14 supporters out of a 65,000-strong crowd.

Similar stadium rules apply in Iran, where 25-year-old British national Ghoncheh Ghavemi was arrested while trying to watch a volleyball match with her friends. She has since been released on bail pending her court appeal against charges of “propagating against the ruling system”.

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