Sham Al-Ghamdi, the first Saudi woman to work as football referee

Sham Al-Ghamdi, the first Saudi football referee

Saudi Sham Al-Ghamdi has achieved excellence in the field of refereeing women’s matches in the teams’ league in Jeddah, which started last Friday, October 4, to eliminate the old impression that football is a male game only, prove her competence, and achieve her ambition.

In an interview, Sham said: “Ever since I was little, I love football, my passion for this game led me to succeed and become a referee of football, after long time I spent in following the media and knowing all the details of the game, from the game’s rules and strategies as well as the conditions that must be met in the referee on the pitch”.

“I stepped in that till I gained a clear understanding of all FIFA’s old and new rules, what needs to be applied on the pitch, which need high responsibility and focus, and a thorough knowledge of the rules and conditions of the game,” Sham continued.

Sham explained that she learned refereeing through reading, watching football games, and the personal support of experienced football referees, but I faced difficulties in terms of issuing licenses that need official support, so I refereed for teams and friendly matches in preparation for the league, to avoid mistakes in the first women’s league in Jeddah.

Regarding the society’s vision, Sham commented: “The society is moving in the pace of change and development, and there is great support from the society to raise the flag of Saudi Arabia in the field of sports locally and globally,” explaining that the success of women in sports is important, due to the fact that football is one of the most popular sports in Saudi Arabia, which does not affect femininity nor the teachings of the true religion, as she described, so she achieved its dream after she felt it would be impossible to become a referee.

“Saudi women can achieve success in the sports sector and world championships. They are not less capable than men, all they need is support and invest opportunities in the sports sector. There are many women who manage the big matches outside the green pitch in the Prince Mohammad bin Salman league through Al-Jawhara Stadium in Jeddah and King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh. There are vacant workplaces for women to work in sports as well”.

Sham confirmed that she aspires to reach the international level and become accredited to FIFA and the Saudi Football Federation.