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FIFA Selects First Female International Referee From Saudi Arabia

The world's governing body of football has announced that there are eight Saudis on the international panel, including Anoud al-Asmari.

Less than a year after the Saudi women's national team made its debut, FIFA selected the country's first female international referee on Thursday.

The Saudi Arabian Football Federation put together a list that included Anoud Al-Asmari's name on it. She is the only woman among the eight Saudis who were named to the international panel by football's top regulatory body.

The Saudis have taken a number of steps in the world of football, most recently signing the legendary 37-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo to the Saudi Pro League, considering a World Cup co-hosting bid, and presenting Anoud Al-Asmari with an international badge.

Al-Asmari speaking to the AFP news agency said, “I am happy to be the first Saudi female referee to receive the international badge in the history of Saudi sports.”

Al-Asmari, 34, was asked how she would feel about officiating a men's game; she said that she would not give it any consideration until the Saudi FA authorized it.

Al-Asmari began her career as a referee in 2018, when she officiated a number of games for the Saudi women's national team, according to the Saudi Gazette.

As a result of the reforms led in particular by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, more possibilities, notably in sports, have begun to become available to Saudi women. November 2021 saw the launch of a women's football league.

Last February, the first Saudi women's national team defeated the Seychelles 2-0 in their inaugural encounter under the guidance of German veteran Monica Stapp.

As the only bidder for the men's Asian Cup in 2027, Saudi Arabia, whose neighbor Qatar hosted the World Cup in November and December, has sought to host the women's competition in 2026.

According to news sources, it is also thinking of submitting a combined bid for the 2030 World Cup with Egypt and Greece.

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