Saudi Arabia hosts first 11-a-side international women’s football tournament

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Saudi Arabia is hosting its first-ever women’s 11-a-side international football tournament, which is being officiated by the Kingdom’s first FIFA-licensed female referee Anoud al-Asmari.

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National teams from Saudi Arabia, Comoros, Pakistan, and Mauritius are going head-to-head in the friendly tournament that kicked off on Wednesday at the Prince Saud bin Jalawi Stadium in Dammam.

Saudi Arabia defeated Mauritius 1-0 in the opening match thanks to a goal from Myriam al-Tamimi, while Pakistan beat Comoros 1-0 after a goal from Anmol Hira.

“The hosting of this tournament in Saudi Arabia marks a milestone moment not just for women’s football and the growth of the game in the Kingdom, but for football itself.

“It is an event that can play a big role in inspiring millions of young girls across the country and the Asian continent to become involved in the beautiful game,” Lamia Bahaian, Supervisor of the Women’s Football Department at the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF), said in a press statement.

“It is an event that can play a big role in inspiring millions of young girls across the country and the Asian continent to become involved in the beautiful game,” she added.

Al Asmari, 35, began her professional refereeing career in 2018 by officiating Saudi Women’s community league matches.

On Thursday, January 5, she made history by becoming the first Saudi female referee to be accredited by FIFA.

The friendly tournament in the Eastern Province follows the first official women’s football championship in Saudi Arabia, when the five-a-side West Asian Football Federation Women's Futsal Championship was held in June of last year.

It also comes as the country awaits a decision on its bid to host the 2026 Women’s Asian Cup, which it recently submitted to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in Kuala Lumpur.

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