Football in Saudi Arabia

SOURCE: Wikipedia

Mar 1, 2018

Football in Saudi Arabia
Country Saudi Arabia
Governing body Saudi Arabia Football Federation
National team men’s national team
National competitions
Saudi Professional League
Club competitions
King Cup
International competitions
AFC Champions League
FIFA World Cup
Asian Cup

Football is the most popular sport in Saudi Arabia.[1] Football in Saudi Arabia is governed by Saudi Arabia Football Federation (Arabic: الاتحاد السعودي لكرة القدم‎). It was founded in the year of 1956.[2] It performs the function of administering both the club competitions and the national football team of Saudi Arabia.

The founder of Saudi Arabia Football Federation is Prince Abdullah bin Faisal al Saud.



King Fahd International Stadium.

National Football team

The Saudi Arabia national football team (Arabic: منتخب السعودية لكرة القدم‎), known to its fans as Al-Saqour which means The Falcons. Saudi Arabia is one of the most successful football teams in Asia. Saudi Arabia has won the Asian Championship 3 times and has qualified for the FIFA World Cup four times, the first of which was in 1994.

Saudi Arabia has a major rivalry with Iran.


The Saudi Professional League is the highest level of competition in the country. In the 1970s, football was organized on a regional basis across Saudi Arabia.[3] Since 2013, the Saudi Pro League has been sponsored by the Abdul Latif Jameel company.

In 1976–77, with the improvement of transportation links as well as local football, the Saudi Professional League was launched on a national basis. 8 clubs participated in the first season of the tournament.

In 1981, a decision was taken by the Saudi Arabia Football Federation to increase the number of clubs, thereby increasing the league to 18 clubs, 8 of which take part in the 1st League, with another 10 competing in the 2nd League. In the 1985–85 season the number of clubs in the 1st League was increased to 12 clubs.

In 1990, a new league championship was also introduced, known as The Custodian of The Two Holy Mosques League Cup. It was a 2-stage competition – round robin and knockout-phase. The top 4 teams (knowns as the Golden Square) from the round robin moved to the knock-out phase to compete for the final championship.

In 2007–08 season, The Custodian of The Two Holy Mosques Champions Cup was introduced for the more elite teams to compete for. 8 teams play in that competition which includes top 6 teams of the 1st League plus the winner of the Crown Prince Cup and the winner of the Prince Faisal Cup.

National Team[4]

National Ranking

As of 30 August 2017, Saudi Arabia was placed 59 on the FIFA World Ranking.


League of Saudi Arabia

There are 3 Divisions in the League of Saudi Arabia:

  • Saudi Professional League – 16 Clubs (Expanded from 14 starting from 2018–19 season)
  • [[Prince Mohammad bin Salman League) – 20 Clubs (Expanded from 16 starting from 2018–19 season)
  • Second Division – 24 Clubs (Expanded from 20 starting from 2018–19 season)

Saudi Arabia General Sports Authority and Saudi Arabian Football Federation announce next steps in LaLiga partnership to grow football in Saudi Arabia


21 JAN 2018

Nine players from Saudi Arabia to join Spanish football clubs on loan; academies, coaching and scouting programs kick off.

The General Sports Authority (GSA) of Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Arabian Football federation (SAFF) and LaLiga, the internationally renowned Spanish football league, today announced key next steps in their partnership to grow the game of football in Saudi Arabia.

First announced in October, the multi-year partnership has multiple elements including an academy partnership and a talent scouting initiative for young footballers in Saudi Arabia.

At an event in Riyadh today seven clubs from LaLiga Santander and LaLiga 1│2│3, the first and second division of Spain’s professional football competition, respectively, announced that they will take 9 players from Saudi Arabia on loan. These loan agreements, for an initial period of six months, allow these players to further develop their skills training and playing in Spain.

The incorporation of players from Saudi Arabia in the Spanish clubs follows a rigorous scouting program that spanned multiple months to identify the best talent.  Players coming to Spain include three players from Saudi Arabia’s national team that were instrumental in their nation qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup: Salem Al Dawsari, Fahad Mowallad and Yahia Sahari. They will join teams of Spanish first division clubs. Other talent coming to Spain will join second division and youth teams.

“Football is the most popular sport in Saudi Arabia. Along with the Saudi football federation we are committed to give the youth the chance to achieve their objectives and play football at the highest level possible,” said H.E. Turky Al-Alsheikh, chairman of the General Sport Authority of Saudi Arabia. “It is GSA’s ongoing and long-term objective to develop football and elevating its level in the kingdom while also creating the new generation of footballers.”

For the Spanish clubs, adding players from Saudi Arabia not only expands their squads, it also means added exposure in the Arab world. LaLiga already is the most popular international league in the region, the incorporation of players from Saudi Arabia in both first and second division clubs is sure to increase the audience and expand commercial opportunities.

As part of the agreement with LaLiga, SAFF is also working to create local football academies in Saudi Arabia under the brand, technical supervision, and expertise of LaLiga. It aims to provide the best football training methods to young Saudi players allowing them to attain sufficient skills through a long term training process. It also aims to work with football coaches across the country to develop coaching skills and methodologies over the coming years.

Professional Players Clubs
  LaLiga Santander
Yahia Sahiri Leganés
Fahad Muwallad Levante
Salmam Al Dawsari Villareal
  LaLiga 123
Ali Al Namer Numancia
Abdulmajeed Al Sulaiheem Rayo Vallecano
Abdullah Alhamdan Sporting de Gijón
Nooh Al Mousa Valladolid
Academy Players  
Marwan Othmnan Leganés
Jabor Issa Villareal

Saudi Arabia hosts its first professional women’s squash tournament

SOURCE: The National

January 8, 2018

It comes amid a slew of reforms spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that include a lifting of restrictions on women

The first professional women’s squash tournament to be hosted by Saudi Arabia has kicked off in Riyadh.

The tournament, which began on Sunday and will end on Friday, is the first women’s squash World Series event of 2018 and comes amid a slew of reforms spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that include a lifting of restrictions on women.

On Friday, Saudi women will for the first time be allowed to enter sports stadiums to watch football matches between local teams. It follows the lifting of a ban on women driving which is set to be implemented in June.

The Saudi Women’s Masters squash tournament has no qualifying rounds meaning that the 32 players taking part go straight into the draw, including the Saudi wild card, Nada Abo Al Naja. The top seed is Egyptian world number one Nour El Sherbini.

The players will be battling it out for the tournament’s lucrative prize fund of US$165,000 (Dh605,962).

Ziad Al Turki, the chairman of the Professional Squash Association (PSA), the sport’s global governing body, is Saudi himself.

According to the PSA, at a dinner ahead of the Saudi women’s tournament hosted by Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, president of the Saudi Federation for Community Sports, Mr Al Turki said: “Things are changing in Saudi, and they are changing fast. Win or lose, you are making history.”

PSA World Tour


? “Things are changing in Saudi, and they are changing fast. Win or lose, you are making history,” – Inspirational words from PSA Chairman @zalturki at the official tournament dinner ahead of the Saudi PSA Masters ?

Read our preview here ⬇️ 

On December 1, Mr Al Turki tweeted that wild card player Abo Al Naja would become the first Saudi woman to play in a PSA tournament.

Ziad Al-Turki


Congratulations to Nada Aboalnaga for being chosen as the Saudi Wildcard. 1st Saudi Female to join the

British player Sarah-Jane Perry, who is ranked sixth in the world, tweeted that she was “proud” to be a part of the first Saudi women’s tournament.

“It was amazing to be hosted by Princess Reema tonight and hear how truly passionate she is about sport in Saudi. Thanks to @zalturki for persisting in making your dream a reality and facilitating us to live ours #groundbreaking,” she added.

Sarah-Jane Perry@SJPerry15

Proud to be a part of this. It was amazing to be hosted by Princess Reema tonight and hear how truly passionate she is about sport in Saudi. Thanks to @zalturki for persisting in making your dream a reality and facilitating us to live ours @WomenSportTrust 

Saudi female athletes in Arab Women Sports

SOURCE: Saudi Gazette 
Dec 19, 2017
SAUDI ARABIA is participating in five events with five clubs, namely United Basketball, the Green Jeddah Table Tennis, Saudi Arabia Fencing Federation Academy, Prince Nora University’s Athletics Club and one other, yet to be named, which will take part in the karate competition.

Sixty-nine clubs from 17 Arab countries have so far registered to compete in the fourth edition of the Arab Women Sports Tournament (AWST), with more expected to sign up before the 11-day event begins on Feb. 2 at 10 venues across Sharjah, according to organziers.The Supreme Organizing Committee (SOC) of AWST 2018 has confirmed that the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon, Palestine, Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Djibouti will all be participating.

Themed ‘The World is Your Court, Together Victorious’, the tournament, organized by the Sharjah Women’s Sports Foundation (SWSF), will be held under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Jawahar Bint Mohammed Al Qasmi, wife of the Ruler of Sharjah and chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA) and chairperson of SWSF.

The clubs will compete in AWST’s nine sports: basketball, volleyball, table tennis, fencing, archery, shooting, athletics, show jumping, and karate – which will be held for the first time – flying the flags for their countries in world class international arenas across the emirate.

Nada Askar Al Naqbi, deputy head of AWST’s SOC, head of its Executive Committee and director General of SWSF, said: “We are extremely pleased with the response to AWST 2018, which has demonstrated the tournament’s leading status as a pan-Arab sporting event for women, attracting not just the highest number of athletes and clubs from the Arab world, but the highest quality. And we are expecting even more entries, which will add further to AWST’s presence on a worldwide sporting platform.”

Al Naqbi pointed out that the increasing number of participants also reflects the success of promotional tours and media campaigns carried out by AWST’s SOC in Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Jordan under the directives of Sheikha Jawaher.

With the most comprehensive field of athletes, the UAE is taking part in each of the tournament’s nine disciplines represented by Sharjah Sports Club.

Bahrain and Algeria each have eight clubs across eight disciplines. Bahraini clubs include Bahrain Shooting, Alhala Fencing, Bahrain Karate Academy, Bahrain Archery, Al Basateen Athletics, Al Muharraq Volleyball, Bahrain Table Tennis, Ministry of Youth and Sports Mawaheb Basketball Club, and one other in show-jumping.

Jordan will participate in four disciplines with clubs Fuheis Volleyball, Women’s Sports Table Tennis Association, Women’s Athletics Association and Women’s Karate Association.

Egypt will compete with four clubs in four sports: Alexandria Sporting Basketball Club, Mo’tah Volleyball, Al Jawad Equestrian Club and Nepocan Karate Club. Somalia will also have four clubs in four disciplines – Mogadishu Basketball Club, Al Qanah Shooting Club, Al Masry Equestrian Club and Al Ahli Bank Karate Club.

Yemen will be represented in the tournament with the Girls Sports Club, which will take part in shooting, karate and archery, while Palestine will participate with two clubs, Al Wasl Volleyball Club and Al Wusta Archery Club.

Libya will be represented by Al Quds Equestrian Club, Al Istiqlal Athletics Club and Bait Al Magdis Karate Club, while Oman will field Sahar Volleyball Club, Qurayyat Shooting Club and Reyadhat Athletics.

Kuwait is participating in volleyball, basketball, table tennis, athletics and karate, represented by Al Fatah Sporting Club. Iraq’s Beshmarka Sports Club will compete in karate, athletics and archery.

Lebanon, Morocco and Djibouti are each represented by one club in the volleyball competition; Lebanon’s Al Qamatia Volleyball Club, Djibouti’s Telcom Volleyball Club and Morocco’s Zanata Al Shallalat Volleyball Club.

In 2016, Dr. Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, issued an Emiri decree establishing SWSF as a corporate body enjoying financial independence with full capacity to carry out the necessary legation transactions to achieve its goals. Sheikha Jawaher is the chairperson of the SWSF, assisted by an advisory committee consisting of highly qualified members with vast experience in the foundation’s areas of work.

Yoga is now officially recognised as a sport in Saudi Arabia

SOURCE:Emirates Woman

Nov 16, 2017

The kingdom will soon start issuing licences for teachers, according to reports.

It’s been a year jam-packed with reforms in Saudi Arabia—and there’s now another one to add to the list.

The kingdom will officially acknowledge yoga as a sports activity, Al Arabiya reports, with licences soon to be permitted for those who want to teach the discipline.

The news was announced by Nouf Marwaai, a yoga instructor based in Jeddah who has long campaigned for the move.

Saudi’s Ministry of Commerce and Investment approved the teaching of yoga as a sports activity, she told theSaudi Gazette, which means teachers can now apply for a licence in the kingdom.

“I am happy to see sports evolving in the country,” Marwaai told the newspaper. “Yoga is a wellness sport and the approval is going to legalise yoga practice in the country which is good for better services and practice.”

The reform follows news that Saudi will start offering physical education classes at girls’ public schools next year.

saudi girls football

Classes will be introduced “gradually” and “in accordance with (Islamic) Shariah regulations”, AP reports, adding that it’s not yet known if they will form part of the curriculum.

The move comes after years of calls from activists to give women greater access to exercise, in a country where almost 50 per cent of women were found to be physically inactive in a government study.

The Ministry of Education revealed in a statement that the introduction of PE classes comes as part of Vision 2030, the kingdom’s post-oil economy plans to make Saudi a more modern, tourist-friendly destination.

The kingdom also recently announced women will soon be able to attend sports events in stadiums in three cities, with the changes set to come into place next year.

Authorities also started granting licences for women’s gyms earlier this year, if the venues focus on fitness and weight-loss activities, such as running, swimming and weightlifting.

Saudi Arabia is holding its first women’s basketball tournament

Time: November 1, 2017

It’s another first for the kingdom in a year full of them.

Saudi Arabia will play host to its first-ever official women’s basketball tournament on Saturday, in another move towards increased freedom for women.

The games will be held at King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah, Gulf News reports, and have the support of the General Sports Authority and the Ministry of Health.


Teams from Jeddah United, Dar Al Hekma University, University of Business and Technology, DFAC, Braves and Shoot for Cause will compete, and the matches will be attended by women only.

Organiser Leena Al Maeena, of the Shura Committee, told Saudi site Al Marsad the tournament was also aiming to raise awareness of breast cancer, Gulf News said.

“We are grateful for the approval of such special women’s sports championships… It is nice to participate in an important day for women and to educate them for the sake of eliminating breast cancer through a sports tournament held for the first time in Saudi Arabia,” Al Maeena said.

“I hope such tournaments will continue and I am confident that this one will be successful as the strongest women’s basketball clubs in Jeddah will be playing,” she continued.

The tournament comes after women were allowed into sports stadiums in the city for the first time, and amid calls for women to participate more in sports.

saudi girls football

The changes come under Vision 2030, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ambitious post-oil economic plan which aims to make Saudi a more modern, tourist-friendly destination.

In September, a royal decree revealed women will be able to secure driving licences from June 2018, with the news widely celebrated around the globe.

As part of the initiative, the government also aims to increase the percentage of women in the nation’s workforce from 23 per cent to 28 per cent by 2020.

This article was first published in Emirates Woman

If you want more interesting news or videos of this website click on this link Emirates Woman


Saudi football, like its society, looks to a brighter future

SOURCE: Four Four Two Arabia

Time: October 04, 2017


Over the past month Saudi Arabia has been the centre of extensive international news coverage for all the right reasons.

Under the young Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, the kingdom set-off on an accelerated economic and social modernisation programme, particularly the long-awaited decision to revoke an infamous unwritten law that had prevented women from driving in Saudi Arabia.

Football has always been a key part of Saudi society and unsurprisingly, it was also at the heart of this new phase of reformation dubbed by many as “The Fourth Saudi State”. In the same month that Saudi women earned their right to drive, its national team celebrated a return to the World Cup after 12 years of absence from the world’s top sporting event.

Under Dutch manager Bert van Marwijk, the Green Falcons pipped the likes of Australia and the UAE to join historic rivals Japan in Russia 2018. But, for all the changes van Marwijk brought to the first team, this was only the tip of an iceberg of changes that swept the sport in the Gulf’s largest nation.

While international news outlets focused on the end of the women’s driving ban, other equally important changes have been taking place in the background, making an impact inside the kingdom but failing to make headlines abroad. Since King Salman took over in 2015, Saudi Arabia effectively abolished its infamous religious police, allowed music concerts for the first time since the 1980s, introduced physical education classes to girls’ schools, established female gyms and most recently passed an anti-sexual harassment law.

It has often been said that football can be a metaphor for society, and this has never been truer than in the case of Saudi Arabia, where social changes were mirrored by sporting ones.

As van Marwijk focused on getting his tactics right, instilling discipline in his squad and creating a sense of unity and pride in the national team, his backroom staff were busy making significant changes to the football system in the country. In fact, the Dutchman rarely spent any time in Saudi beyond pre-match preparations and matchdays. His assistant, former Netherlands captain Mark van Bommel, handled the responsibility of scouting players from the league and delivering reports.

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The unknown soldier in this operation was a Belgian coach named Jan van Winckel; a former assistant for Marcelo Bielsa at Olympique Marseille, he first stepped foot in Saudi in 2002 as an assistant to Aad de Moss at Al Hilal, and in 2015 was brought in to serve as a technical director for the Saudi Football Federation. His role involved the development of Saudi coaches and grassroots football. In his two years in charge, van Winckel helped double the number of registered footballers in the country, while expanding the number of football academies and training courses available for young Saudis wanting to pursue a coaching career.

‘Live the Challenge’, a nationwide Under-14s competition divided by regions, saw over 5,000 players participate and the top 40 scouted players played the finals at Real Madrid’s iconic Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

The General Sports Authority, a government body tasked with developing sports in the country launched an ambitious scouting project. The National Scouting Committee was set up, comprising of former Saudi international players who have played in the World Cup and represented the top five most popular clubs. The committee members toured the country from Al Ahsa in the east, to Jazan near the Yemeni border to the capital Riyadh, and identified 70 players as the nation’s starts of the future. The players will be placed in a special programme to develop them into professionals capable of playing at the top level of European football and representing the national team.

Crucially, and for the first time, the national team scouts dipped into the previously untapped talent pool of Saudi-born expat players. A strong social sentiment against the naturalisation of expats meant there was historically little will to look at these players, but the “Fourth Saudi State” is indeed taking a different approach to things.

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Eleven Saudi-born players were identified as hot prospects, some of whom play their football in the lower tiers of Saudi league or even in the non-league “Hawari” – neighbourhood – pitches, while some plied their trade abroad.

Mukhtar Ali, one of Chelsea’s army of loanees at Vitesse Arnhem, represented England at U-16 and U-17 levels, but was born in the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia to Somali parents and lived his early childhood in the kingdom before moving to the UK. Ali has been called-up to an exclusive training camp alongside the other 10 players; two Sudanese, two Yemenis, two Egyptians, two Nigeriens, one Nigerian, one Malian.

They will be training in a reserve pitch a stone’s throw away from where the national team is holding its first training camp under new manager Edgardo Bauza in preparation for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Then there’s 18-year-old Faris Abdi, a Saudi student at the University of Virginia and also a member of the U-18 US national team squad. He has been fast-tracked straight into the national team’s camp where Bauza will take a closer look at him with a view of handing him his competitive debut before the US does.

Bert van Marwijk’s reign has ended, despite leading the team to the World Cup. New Football Federation head Adel Ezzat was reluctant to have him continue managing the team remotely, and Bauza was instantly brought to replace him amidst scepticism over whether the Argentine who failed to impress with his homeland’s national team was the right man for the job.

But with all the work being done in the background, Bauza will have every reason to succeed. For the newly appointed head of the General Sports Authority, Turki Al Asheikh, van Marwijk is the past and the new Saudi Arabia looks in just one direction; forward to the future.