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.”


Qatar in talks to buy stake in Leeds United

Updated 26 May 2019
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Qatar in talks to buy stake in Leeds United

  • QSI’s chief Nasser Al-Khelaifi was charged with corruption in connection with the bidding process for this year’s world athletics championships in Doha
  • Leeds United plays in the second tier of English professional football, the Championship, and will be Qatar Sports Investment’s (QSI) first venture into British football

DUBAI: Qatar is in talks to buy a stake in UK football club Leeds United, the Financial Times reported.

Leeds United plays in the second tier of English professional football, the Championship, and will be Qatar Sports Investment’s (QSI) first venture into British football. It currently controls France’s Paris Saint-Germain.

“Qatar Sports Investments will be entering English Football, and Leeds is the club of their choice,” a person familiar with the talks told FT. “Qatar has been looking into the prospects of entering English Football for the past two years.”

QSI’s chief Nasser Al-Khelaifi was charged with corruption in connection with the bidding process for this year’s world athletics championships in Doha, judicial sources said.

Al-Khelaifi, who is also the boss of Qatari television channel BeIN Sports, has been under investigation since March in a probe of the bidding process for the 2017 and the 2019 world championships.

French prosecutors are looking specifically at two payments of $3.5 million in 2011 by Oryx Qatar Sports Investment, a company jointly owned by Al-Khelaifi and his brother Khalid, to a sports marketing firm run by Papa Massata Diack.

Diack’s father Lamine Diack was president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) from 1999 to 2015 and a member of the International Olympic Committee.

As well as probing the world athletics championships the French investigation is also examining circumstances in which the Olympic Games were awarded to Rio de Janeiro for 2016 and Tokyo for 2020.

Prior to the decision to charge him, Al-Khelaifi had been questioned in March as “person of interest” in the case revolving around the 2011 payments by Oryx which were made at a time when Doha was seeking to host the 2017 world athletics championship and the 2020 Olympics.

Investigators were seeking to determine whether, in return for the payments, Lamine Diack used his influence to gain votes for Doha among IAAF members and also to obtain a date change for the competitions to avoid the heat of the Qatar summer.

(With AFP)