London - Saudi Arabia's Football Federation
(SAFF) appointed women to the board for the first time in the kingdom's history
on Wednesday, and also named a new president.
women are Adwa al-Arifi and Reham Al-Onaizan and the new president is Qusay bin
Saudi authorities said al-Fawaz was
the sole candidate who met all conditions for a post left empty after Adel
Ezzat resigned on August 19 to run for the presidency of the Asian Football
Al-Arifi was, Saudi media has reported,
appointed in February as "the first woman committee member" in the
history of SAFF. She was part of a seven-member corporate social responsibility
committee and holds a degree in business administration.
Al-Onaizan's Linkedin page says she
was "corporate performance and initiative management Senior Manager at the
(Saudi) General Entertainment Authority'.
Qusay al-Fawaz is close to the head
of Saudi Arabia's general authority for sports head Turki Al-Sheikh - who in
turn is close to the kingdom's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who
has been making social and economic reforms.
These included allowing women to
enter a football stadium to watch a match for the first time in January, an
easing of rules separating the sexes.
However, his reforms have been
paralleled by a crackdown on all dissent, with 12 women's rights campaigners
arrested over the summer – eight of them women.
Al-Fawaz has served as president of
the Saudi Chess Federation and was a member of the team that oversaw Saudi
Arabia's participation in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Saudi Arabia has long been a
marginal player in football's ruling classes, unlike its Gulf rival Qatar -
set to host the 2022 World Cup - with which it is embroiled in a year-long
But the oil-rich kingdom is in the
middle of a major push for global influence in football governance.