Soccer Groups in Middle East Push Women’s Right to Participate

Soccer associations throughout the Middle East launched a campaign recently to put women’s soccer even with men’s soccer in an area where the right of a woman to pursue a career in athletics is still controversial and when Islam in politics continues to rise.

The campaign was announced following a seminar in Jordan’s capital of Amman. The seminar had been organized by WAFF, the West Asian Football Federation and one big absentee at the seminar out of the 13 members of the Middle East Football Association was Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia, soccer for women is lost in the legal and political nether land along with the country of Yemen.

The new soccer campaign comes at the same time that women in the region are demanding more rights, as the region enters a time of dramatic social and political change. Over the past two years, popular revolts toppled autocratic heads of state in Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Tunisia.

The uprisings have sparked a civil war inside Syria and caused leaders in numerous other nations to adopt new policies designed to shield them against protests that will most likely touch every nation in the Middle East.

A final statement at the seminar defined a woman athlete as a woman who is empowered and who can further empower her community. The seminar, in opposition of some Islamists in the region along with some conservative segments of society in the Middle East, stressed that soccer for women was in no way demeaning traditional or cultural values.

The statement has requested that more women be appointed to the WAFF boards, that a WAFF committee for women be established and that an UNDER 16 and 19 women’s team competitions in the Middle East be established.

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