By G9ija

On his recent visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Gianni Infantino, President of world football governing body FIFA, championed the cause for continued progress in the growth of women’s participation in sports especially in football in the ultra conservative kingdom.

The Swiss-Italian football administrator met with members of the women’s football development department of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) and with members of the Saudi Arabia national women’s futsal team as part of his itinerary of his visit.

Accompanied by FIFA Deputy Secretary General – Football Mattias Grafström, and joined by Sports Minister HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal and SAFF President Yasser bin Hassan Al-Misehal, Infantino had the opportunity to discuss with players and officials and to stress the importance of the ongoing development of women’s football in Saudi Arabia, in line with FIFA’s overall strategy for the sport in the region.

Supporting the discussions was an in-depth presentation of the strategy for the future development of women’s football from SAFF Board Member Adwaa Al-Arifi and SAFF Women’s Football Development Director Lamia Baiyan.

One of the several positive strides SAFF has taken recently in the development of women’s football in Saudi Arabia was the creation of a dedicated women’s football department in government to promote and encourage female participation in the kingdom as well as launching the first-ever women’s football league in 2020, which featured around 600 players from 24 teams.

“A lot has changed in Saudi Arabia in the recent past. Women’s football is now played in the country and we need to support its development. FIFA needs to work together with the SAFF in order to ensure a bright future for women’s football in Saudi Arabia,” the FIFA President said, reiterating what he had mentioned in earlier discussions with Saudi Arabia’s leadership.