Zest for women’s soccer grows in Middle East despite conservative opposition
By Chris Gammell
Published: May 24, 2013
FIFA is getting it wrong when it claims that women’s teams in the Middle East do not exist. If the word “Middle East” is offensive, then so is the word “women’s soccer.”
Yes, there are some countries that don’t have enough women in soccer, but the Middle East is not one of them. There are a number of women in soccer around the world, as players or coaches, and they have been there for a long time. FIFA should take pride in that.
There is no doubt that having an exclusively male team is unfair. Many women have played in the lower divisions of the men’s game and there is no right to play for an exclusively male team. But women in soccer in this region come from all walks of life – all races, religions, cultures and cultures of poverty. The women in soccer are in a far better position than men in soccer to take advantage of the opportunity.
In this context, FIFA should be proud of the fact that more women than men are playing in the middle east. The Middle East has been trying to develop women’s soccer for some time, but has been frustrated by the opposition of the male establishment.
For years, FIFA has insisted that there are no women’s soccer teams in the region. That claim is not only inaccurate but it is also politically motivated.
It is true that women have played soccer in the Middle East as long as men in soccer have, but the Middle East is more diverse than some of the other regions the world over. It has a rich and diverse history in the sport.
Women in soccer in the Middle East have the right to play any number of sports and to play on any field they want, within the law. For years, FIFA has opposed this in the Middle East.
FIFA’s opposition has not been only to women playing soccer, but also to women’s soccer at all.
In the Middle East, women are often the subject of discrimination. Women are often excluded from the