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Qatari women and their long walk to the stadiums

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Al Sadd fans celebrating their team 2-1 win in Qatar Cup final over El Jaish at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium, Doha, Qatar. (Photo: Wadad Hachichou)

by Tracy Kwaleh Atumkeze, AIPS Young Reporter, Cameroon

DOHA, May 1, 2017 - As the Qatari football fans stream into the stadium to watch the 67th edition of the Qatar Cup final, one could not help but notice that the crowd was predominantly made up of men and boys. The presence of women was obviously absent as the few that could be spotted in the stands were from western countries.

 

“You don’t see a lot of Qatari women in the stadiums; this explains the cultural values in Qatar”, says Amina Bovamau, a Qatari based journalist working for Qatar Radio, right after the game.

 

In an attempt to justify the virtually non-existent female attendance in sporting events, a senior sports writer of DohaStadium media, N Ganesh, shows another angle: "With the cultural sensitivity of the region, there are not enough family areas at the stadiums. Women are not allowed to mingle, so they need special slots to watch football matches", he says to AIPS.

 

However, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon for Qatari women. In a more connected world and with Qatar gradually becoming a sports hub, optimism towards women’s presence is palpable.

 

Three months ago, the Qatari Women's Sports Committee has recently organised events like the Gulf Cooperation Council, a women’s football match that attracted a lot of female presence in the stands.

 

"This is a new country and the promotion of women’s football is happening. They are very passionate about the game but are still obliged to follow the game on TV screens. With the global evolution and development of women’s football, especially within the Asian continent, Qatari remain optimistic that a wind of change might one day blow across the Qatari culture to make it more welcoming to women, not only in the stadia, but actually participating in the game of football”, Ganesh concluded.

 

Recent improvements, like the presence of women in regular tennis events, suggest that stadiums full of men might soon be an image from the past.

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