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FIFA appoints Saudi’s first female referee in another football first for the kingdom

Saudi Arabia’s first female international referee, Anoud al-Asmari, has been appointed by FIFA in a week of footballing triumphs for the kingdom.

Al-Asmari was appointed by the International Football Association on Thursday, less than a year after the debut of Saudi Arabia’s first women’s national team.

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“I am delighted to be the first Saudi female referee to receive the international badge in the history of Saudi sport,” al-Asmari, one of eight Saudis on the international panel announced by the world body, told AFP.

It comes the same week for Portuguese footballer and five-time Ballon D’or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, who has landed in Saudi Arabia following his historic signing at Al Nassr Football Club.

Saudi Arabia has made a name for itself on the international football scene. As the number one sport in Saudi Arabia, football has continued to gain importance and momentum in recent years, particularly following the national team’s recent victory over Argentina at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, with the full team based in Saudi Arabia .

Saudi women in sports

Al-Asmari’s appointment is also the latest historic milestone for women’s football in Saudi Arabia. In December, the kingdom submitted its bid to host the 2026 AFC Women’s Asian Cup.

Saudi Arabia’s move to apply for the women-only event is an example of the country’s efforts to unlock untapped potential and opportunities for women and girls across Asia.

Saudi Arabia’s women’s national football team won their first-ever international match against Seychelles on February 20, 2022. (twitter)

Should the bid to host the competition be successful, Saudi Arabia will play a crucial role in promoting women’s leadership in sport both domestically and internationally.

Yasser Almisehal, President of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF), said at the time: “The future of women’s football in Saudi Arabia is bright and we are committed to growing football here and across Asia. More and more young girls are playing football in this country and we want to keep inspiring them. Hosting the 2026 AFC Women’s Asian Cup would be a great opportunity for our players and made unforgettable by the passion of our fans.”

Over the past three years there has been significant investment in grassroots player development, competitions, coaching and more including the Women’s Premier League and Girls School League.

The women’s team was officially established in 2019 by the Saudi Arabian Football Association, which hosts 450 registered players, 49 qualified referees and more than 900 coaches.

Continue reading:

Saudi Arabia submits official bid for 2026 AFC Women’s Asian Cup

Newly signed Al Nassr club player Ronaldo has been sidelined from his debut game and is serving a two-game ban

Cristiano Ronaldo enjoys the winter evening in Riyadh in Diriyah

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