Saudi Arabia lifts ban on women at Sweden match

Saudi Arabia has backed down on barring women from attending an international football match with Sweden in Riyadh this week after its decision caused uproar, the Swedish Football Association said on Tuesday.

“Wednesday’s international game between Saudi Arabia and Sweden will be open for all spectators who want to see the match,” the football association said in a statement.

There were calls from across Sweden for the country’s team to boycott the game after it became clear on Monday that the match had been moved to a smaller stadium than first expected, prompting Saudi authorities to block women from attending.

Women, who face strict restraints in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom, are required to cover from head to toe when in public and to stay separate from men.

In Sweden, perhaps the world’s most feminist country, the news that both Swedish and Saudi women would be blocked from attending the game did not go down well.

When questioned about the match in parliament on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds said “it is important that Sweden very clearly speaks out when women are discriminated against. This is a good occasion.”

The foreign ministry was unable to say whether Freivalds had made her concerns known directly to the Saudis, but according to the football association, Christer Nilsson of the Swedish embassy in Riyadh had contacted authorities there.

“The football stadium where the international game will be played is open for everyone who wants to see the match, and that is also true for Saudi women,” he was told on Tuesday.

Discuss this topic!



Stockholm Pride is a little different this year: here’s what you need to know 

This week marks the beginning of Pride festivities in the Swedish capital. The tickets sold out immediately, for the partly in-person, partly digital events. 

Pride parade 2019
There won't be a Pride parade like the one in 2019 on the streets of Stockholm this year. Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/TT

You might have noticed rainbow flags popping up on major buildings in Stockholm, and on buses and trams. Sweden has more Pride festivals per capita than any other country and is the largest Pride celebration in the Nordic region, but the Stockholm event is by far the biggest.  

The Pride Parade, which usually attracts around 50,000 participants in a normal year, will be broadcast digitally from Södra Teatern on August 7th on Stockholm Pride’s website and social media. The two-hour broadcast will be led by tenor and debater Rickard Söderberg.

The two major venues of the festival are Pride House, located this year at the Clarion Hotel Stockholm at Skanstull in Södermalm, and Pride Stage, which is at Södra Teatern near Slussen.

“We are super happy with the layout and think it feels good for us as an organisation to slowly return to normal. There are so many who have longed for it,” chairperson of Stockholm Pride, Vix Herjeryd, told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

Tickets are required for all indoor events at Södra Teatern to limit the number of people indoors according to pandemic restrictions. But the entire stage programme will also be streamed on a big screen open air on Mosebacketerassen, which doesn’t require a ticket.  

You can read more about this year’s Pride programme on the Stockholm Pride website (in Swedish).