-By Ismail Auwal

Saudi Arabia’a has kick started first women football league on Tuesday, after after being delayed for months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

24 Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam are competing for a championship cup.

The opening matches on Tuesday evening were not televised, but Saudi media hailed them as another step forward for women’s participation in sport.

It was only in 2018 that women were first allowed to watch football matches in stadiums in the Gulf kingdom.

According to media reports including BBC the authorities cited cultural norms and religious teachings in denying women the right to participate in sporting activities.

Already, clerics warned that opening sports to them would lead to immorality.

Seven matches took place in the capital Riyadh and the Red Sea city of Jeddah on the opening day of the Saudi Women’s Football League (WFL), which had been due to kick off in March.

The results included an 11-0 win for Tigers over Jeddah Challenge, and a 10-1 victory for Al Riyadh United over Najd Al Riyady.

The teams will compete in their respective cities before participating in the final nationwide championship stage, where the championship cup will be awarded. The total prize fund is 500,000 Saudi riyals ($133,000; £100,000).

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