Saudi Arabia’s women’s national football team has been included in the official FIFA World Ranking for the first time in history.
The Team’s Journey
The Green Falcons have featured in nine official matches, four of which were victories, three draws and two defeats. The team was established in 2019, following the introduction of the Women’s Football Department of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF). The department conducted initial tryouts, which attracted over 700 girls, leading to the squad featuring 47 girls from across Saudi Arabia. The national team played its first competitive international matches in February 2022 against Seychelles and Maldives, both of which resulted in 2-0 victories.
Coaching and Development
The team is currently led by Finish head coach Rosa Lappi-Seppälä, who took over from newly promoted Women’s Technical Director Monika Staab. The Saudi team’s victories in its inaugural friendly tournament helped it earn a place on the global stage within the FIFA Ranking. As a result, it can now officially compete in FIFA and AFC-sanctioned competitions.
Impact and Responsibility
Team captain Sarah Khalid said, “To be FIFA ranked makes us part of world football, and that means everything. We recognise that we have a huge responsibility to inspire the youth and pave the way for the future generation who will represent Saudi Arabia.”
Growth of Women’s Football in Saudi Arabia
President of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation and FIFA Council member Yasser Al Misehal said, “What these girls achieved in just a matter of a year and a half has been nothing short of incredible. Since 2019 we have managed to successfully establish a national team, a premier league, a first division, a school’s league, with 50,000 girls signing up and in recent weeks introduced an U-17 national team. In just 2 years we have nearly doubled the number of registered players, clubs, referees and staff and seen an 800% growth in the number of coaches.”
Women’s Football Development in Saudi Arabia
Women’s football in Saudi Arabia has undergone huge strides in recent years, with growth across all metrics, including the number of registered players, licensed coaches and referees, clubs, and domestic competitions. Female coaches have grown from 119 to over 1,000 in two years, while grassroots academies focusing on 6-17-year-old players recorded a massive 773% growth in registrations. Al Nassr was crowned champions of the eight-team Women’s Premier League in the inaugural professional leagues last month, and almost 50,000 girls from 3,660 school teams participated in the first nationwide Schools League.
Building for the Future
The Saudi Arabian Football Federation board member and Supervisor of the Women’s Football Department, Lamia Bahaian, said, “Entering the FIFA Ranking has been the moment we’ve been building up towards, and signals just the beginning of what we want to achieve with these girls. They can write their own history now. We are also already in active collaborations with many global bodies and federations and invite the world to join us on our women’s football movement as we strive to give it the platform it truly deserves.”
It is worth noting that with the increasing popularity of women’s football betting sites, women’s football matches are also gaining traction. It is important for organizations such as the Saudi Arabian Football Federation to ensure that measures are put in place to protect the integrity of the game and prevent any form of corruption or manipulation in the sport.
Promoting Women’s Football in Asia
Following a successful men’s AFC Asian Cup bid, Saudi Arabia now awaits a decision on its 2026 AFC Women’s Asian Cup bid, which promises to grow the sport across the continent and build a lasting legacy in Saudi Arabia.
The inclusion of the Saudi Arabian Women’s Football National Team in the FIFA World Ranking is a historic achievement for the country and has been celebrated widely. The team has shown that women’s football in Saudi Arabia is developing rapidly and has the potential to become a major force in the sport.