Kuwaiti MPs seek action against officials who allowed women to play football

March 15, 2010

Kuwaiti men and women cheering

A Kuwaiti conservative parliamentary bloc is putting pressure on the social affairs and labour minister to take stringent action against those who allowed a women’s football team to take part in an Asian tournament.

“We strongly condemn and reject the participation of Kuwaiti women in international sports events,” MPs representing the Reform and Development bloc told Mohammad Al Afassi. “Their latest presence in the football championship in Abu Dhabi was illegal and a waste of money as well, and we want action against those who let it happen,” they said at a meeting with the minister.

The bloc said that it did not mind the involvement of Kuwaiti women in activities “as long as there was a total respect of norms, values and traditions.”

In its first participation in a football tournament in Abu Dhabi last month, the inexperienced Kuwaiti team suffered losses on the pitch and endured attacks by disgruntled lawmakers.

MP Mohammad Al Hayef initiated the harsh criticism following news about the first match in which the Kuwaiti women were crushed 17-0 against a much stronger Palestinian squad in the Third West Asian Women Soccer Tournament in Abu Dhabi.

“Women’s matches are part of the chaos to dilute the values and identity of Kuwait,” the MP said.

MP Khalid Soltan said that the Kuwaiti participation reflected “a breakdown of social values” that could have been averted by those in charge of youth and sports.

“What do we gain from such participation? Has Kuwait stooped so low? Regretfully, we are simply imitating countries that boast of showing off,” he said.

For Salafi MP Waleed Al Tabtabai, the participation in the championship was a violation of Islamic tenets. “Football is not meant for women, anyway,” he said.

Only Aseel Al Awadhi, one of the four women elected to the parliament in a historic breakthrough last year, openly supported the team and said that women had the right to be engaged in competitive sports.

“Only the families of the girls have the right to define what is proper and appropriate. Nobody else has such a right, and that includes all MPs, so their custody is rejected,” said Aseel. “In fact, if there is an investigation, it should be conducted into why women’s sports have been neglected for so long in Kuwait,” she said.

The Kuwaiti team was assembled by Shaikha Naemah Ahmad Al Sabah, the chairwoman of Kuwaiti Women Soccer Committee.

Women’s football is gaining ground in the Gulf, mainly in Bahrain, UAE and Kuwait. Bahrain has a local championship, currently limited to four teams.




About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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