Saudi Arabia’s football federation appoints first women board members

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Adwa Al-Arifi, who was previously a SAFF committee member, joins Reham Al-Onaizan, who brings rich experience in planning and project management from the private sector, on the board. (Supplied)
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Adwa Al-Arifi (left) with the new president of SAFF Quassay Alfawaz. (SAFF)
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SAFF president Quassay Alfawaz. (SAFF)
Updated 06 October 2018
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Saudi Arabia’s football federation appoints first women board members

  • Adwa Al-Arifi, who was previously a SAFF committee member, joins Reham Al-Onaizan on the board
  • Quassay Alfawaz was elected as SAFF’s president at the King Fahad Cultural Center in Riyadh on Wednesday

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Football Federation (SAFF) has appointed two women to its board of directors for the first time in its history, and also named a new president.
Adwa Al-Arifi, who was previously a SAFF committee member, joins Reham Al-Onaizan, who brings rich experience in planning and project management from the private sector, on the board.
Football is one of the most popular and fastest-growing sports for women in Saudi Arabia, particularly after stadiums were opened to women to become more family-friendly with tens of thousands flocking to watch the action since.
Al-Arifi said: “Football in Saudi Arabia has always unified us as families behind TV screens, and now inside stadiums, to support our clubs and national teams who made us happy and proud for years. It is such an honor to be able to serve the youth and families of Saudi Arabia through football.
“For us, football is more than a sport, it’s a rich cultural activity that brings us all together.”

Adwa Al-Arifi (left) with the new president of SAFF Quassay Alfawaz. (SAFF)


Quassay Alfawaz was elected as SAFF’s president at the King Fahad Cultural Center in Riyadh on Wednesday, and he revealed big plans for the development of Saudi Arabian football.
Speaking at SAFF’s annual general assembly, he said his goals for Saudi Arabian football in his first term – which runs until 2022 – are doubling the number of football players in the country, improving the ranking of the Saudi national team to 40th in the world (up from 70th).
He told the meeting: “We are confident about the situation of our national team before the Asian Cup tournament, we will be preparing our team to achieve the best possible results. We believe that our football has the right capabilities to reach a global stage.”
Alfawaz said he plans to send more players from the Kingdom to strong foreign leagues, a move which began to happen in 2018, and to place the Saudi Pro League – this year named the MBS League — among the top 10 in the world. His ambitious program, called ‘The Rise of Saudi Football’, will also see an increase in the number of national coaches and the recruitment of specialized scouts to discover more raw talent in Saudi Arabia.
He told delegates his plan is inspired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 program.

SAFF president Quassay Alfawaz. (SAFF)


As part of his team to improve football, Alfawaz will be joined by Roger Draper, the former Chief Executive of Sport England from 2003 to 2006 and the Lawn Tennis Association from 2006 to 2013.
In his time at Sport England, Draper had overall accountability for business turnover of £340m and was involved in London’s 2012 Olympic bid, and the Wembley National Stadium construction project.
Alfawaz said: “Foreign expertise is essential, and Roger Draper has rich experience in the English Premier League managing several sports projects. We will benefit from his experience.”


Ahmed Barman out to toast Al-Ain success in FIFA Club World Cup

Updated 11 December 2018
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Ahmed Barman out to toast Al-Ain success in FIFA Club World Cup

  • Tournament gets under way on Wednesday when Al-Ain take on Team Wellington at home.
  • UAE midfielder sure his side can cause a few shocks.

LONDON: While he is only too aware of the quality opposition they have to face, Al-Ain midfielder Ahmed Barman is backing “The Boss” to scare a few teams in the FIFA Club World Cup.
The tournament gets under way when the UAE outfit face Team Wellington on their home ground in the opener today. Last year saw fellow Arabian Gulf League side Al-Jazira reach the semifinal where they gave Real Madrid a huge fright before narrowly losing 2-1. And inspired by that march to the last four, Barman is looking for Al-Ain to go one better and become the first Emirati side to make the final.
“The FIFA Club World Cup is a global competition coveted by every club,” Barman said. “Al-Ahli, Al-Jazira and Al-Wahda participated in this tournament before and did their part, putting the UAE on the world map. We at Al-Ain hope to reach the semi-final, as Al-Jazira did, or do even better.”
Before any tournament it is only natural to dream of glory and lifting the trophy in front of adoring fans. But the midfielder is not getting too cocky, revealing that despite having home advantage Al-Ain are taking absolutely nothing for granted, starting with Wednesday’s clash against the Kiwis.
“There’s no doubt that we’re aiming to reach the final and face a giant like Real Madrid, but first we have to focus on our opening match against Team Wellington,” the 24-year-old said.
“We need to win to progress from this round and play the subsequent games until we reach the final against Real Madrid and show a standard of play the UAE can be proud of.”
Barman is not anticipating an easy opener.
“Team Wellington are a very good team with considerable ability. They won their local league and the OFC Champions League, which proves they’re powerful.
“So, all our focus is on this opening match. We’re annualizing our opponents to understand their capabilities as we prepare to perform well on the pitch and get positive result.”
The UAE champions did not have the best preparation for their stab at Club World Cup glory, losing 5-2 to Al-Wasl in the UAE President’s Cup at the weekend.
That result, while clearly not ideal, has not bothered the side’s coach.
“We cannot win every game, what is gone is gone, it’s full concentration on the match ahead,” Zoran Mamic said.
“There are no rules that Al-Ain cannot lose games, that’s why I don’t make any drama.”
But while Barman was keen to invoke the memory of Al-Jazira’s march to the last four, his boss was less so, telling his team to focus on the match at hand before getting ahead of themselves.
“We are not here to talk about last year, just as we are not here to talk about the future,” the Croatian said. “We are here to represent the club in the best possible way. We focus on the match at hand and everything will take care of itself.”
Of today’s opponents he added: “We have watched all their games, we know their strengths and where they are not so strong. They are particularly good offensively, they play with fast wingers and a striker who is a good scorer, they play a system that is unusual to us because no teams in the Emirates play with three in the last line. If we do our job we will (have) a good match.”