First female Saudi football referee eyes World Cup

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Sham Al-Ghamdi bein interviewed after refereeing the first women football championship match in Jeddah. (Supplied)
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Sham Al-Ghamdi bein interviewed after refereeing the first women football championship match in Jeddah. (Supplied)
Updated 11 October 2019

First female Saudi football referee eyes World Cup

  • Sham Al-Ghamdi hopes to gain recognition from the Saudi Arabian Football Federation and become a FIFA-certified international football referee.

Saudi Arabia’s first female football referee already has her sights set on taking charge of a World Cup match.

“I spend hours reading and listening to advice from refereeing experts,” 22-year-old Sham Al-Ghamdi told Arab News. “To referee a World Cup match would be a dream come true.”

Al-Ghamdi, who is studying English literature at university, said her interest in football began when she was only nine.

“One day I saw players in a match voice their anger at a referee’s decision. I wished at that moment I was in the referee’s shoes,” she said.

“Since then I have been following football events on TV, listening to the pundits’ comments and analyzing the performance of the referee.”

Al-Ghamdi’s passion for football came as a surprise to her family.

“My father is not interested in football. When he heard about my hobby, he only advised me to avoid injuries as much as I could. He cannot bear seeing me hurt,” she said.

The young referee hopes to undertake more intensified training courses to help her dream of officiating a World Cup match come true.

“I am optimistic and ambitious. The sky is the limit,” she said. “I have enough information about officiating matches. I read about all the old and modern rules approved by the FIFA in order to acquire the basic skills an amateur referee needs.”

Al-Ghamdi said that she had learned to manage football matches through personal participation and by watching experienced referees.

When she faced difficulties getting the necessary official permits, she focused on refereeing friendly matches.

“I did my best to avoid mistakes in the first-ever women’s championship in Jeddah. Good referees ensure safe games,” she said.

“Now I am happy that my dream to become a referee has come true. Saudi women can achieve success in the sports sector and they can take part in world championships. We are no less than men. We only need support,” she said.

Al-Ghamdi said that she hopes to gain recognition from the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) and become a FIFA-certified international football referee.

Saudis should work hand in hand to improve standards in science, culture and sport, she said.

“We need to support one another to develop our society on all levels. Without that we can’t make the changes we are dreaming of,” she added.   


Sri Lanka win toss in first Test in Pakistan since 2009 attack

Updated 11 December 2019

Sri Lanka win toss in first Test in Pakistan since 2009 attack

  • Foreign teams have been refusing to tour Pakistan since attack on the Lankan team a decade ago
  • Security has improved in Pakistan over the years

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan: Sri Lanka skipper Dimuth Karunaratne won the toss and decided to bat on Wednesday in the first Test in Pakistan since a deadly attack on the Sri Lankan team a decade ago.
Sri Lanka have embarked on the first Test tour of Pakistan since the gun-and-rocket attack in March 2009 killed eight people and wounded players and officials, plunging Pakistan into sporting isolation.
With foreign teams refusing to tour, Pakistan have since played their ‘home’ fixtures in the United Arab Emirates, meaning all of their current team are now playing their first Test on home soil.
However, as security has improved, Pakistan has gradually revived international cricket with limited-overs matches against Zimbabwe, World XI, the West Indies and Sri Lanka over the last four years.
Pakistan entered the Test with a four-man pace attack, giving Test debuts to opener Abid Ali and left-arm fast bowler Usman Shinwari.
Sri Lanka have also included three fast bowlers, with Dilruwan Perera the lone spinner.

Teams:
Pakistan: Azhar Ali (captain), Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah, Shan Masood, Usman Shinwari
Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne (capt), Oshada Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Dilruwan Perera, Lahiru Kumara, Vishwa Fernando, Kasun Rajitha
Umpires: Michael Gough (ENG), Richard Kettleborough (ENG)
TV umpire: Richard Illingworth (ENG)
Match referee: Andy Pycroft (ZIM)