Saudi women were in the stands to watch Al-Ahli versus Al-Batin face each other in the city of Jeddah on Friday, just months before the national team kick off the Federation Internationale de Football Association 2018 World Cup against host Russia, in the opening match of the tournament on June 14 at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
Women fans filed into a stadium in the city of Jeddah on Friday, through family gates into family seating.
In the past, government regulation, social custom and religion factored into what Saudi Arabia women wore, and also barred them from driving, holding certain jobs and traveling.
Now, women attending games must remain in designated "family sections", which are separate from other, all-male portions of the bleachers.
The order opened the previously male-only venues of King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh, King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah, and Prince Mohammed Bin Fahd Stadium in Dammam to accommodate families. Most restaurants and cafes have two sections, one for just men and one for families, which are for women and their husbands and families. This is more than women's rights: today's match between Al-Ahli and Al-Batin, and the ones to follow, are opportunities for families to come together and enjoy KSA's national sport - soccer!
Friday's match was the first in a series that will be open to women: a second is due to take place on Saturday and a third on January 18.
"The recent reforms are part of a gradual process of modernization under Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, who is attempting to make the Kingdom more moderate", wrote BBC.
In 2015, a Saudi woman who tried to attend a soccer game in Jiddah was arrested after local media said she was spotted by security officers "deliberately disguised" in trousers, a long-sleeve top, a hat and sunglasses to avoid detection.
However, strict guardianship laws are still in place, which forbid women from marrying without a male relative's content, traveling overseas and securing a passport.
Saudi authorities announced on October 30, lifting the ban on women entering sports stadiums, allowing them to attend events in three stadiums as of 2018.