The Faisal Husseini International Stadium in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday was the scene of the first ever international soccer match between the Jordanian women’s soccer team and its Palestinian counterpart.
The 22 women making up both teams marched onto the field wearing hijabs, the traditional head covering for Muslim women, and were greeted by an enthusiastic, roaring crowd, made up of tens of thousands of Palestinian women.
The Palestinian Women’s Soccer League was formed by Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestine Sports Association and former National Security Advisor to late Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat.
The idea, he said, was a hard sell: “One I took office I knew I wanted to form a women’s soccer club, but as traditional as Palestinian society is, many sheikhs and clerics were appalled by the notion.”
The VIP section of the stadium was adorned with posters of Arafat, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdulla II of Jordan. Rajoub, along with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and various Palestinian ministers were treated to a front row seat, as were Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) and a representative of FIFA (FPowered by Sidelines