SA Should Bid for Women’s World Cup, Says Former Coach

Tue Apr 04 2023
icon-facebook icon-twitter icon-whatsapp

LONDON: Saudi Arabia women may be far from qualifying for the women’s World Cup, but the more realistic goal would be to host the tournament in the future, Monika Staab, the Saudi technical director of the women’s game, said.


Monika, who had stints as a player in her native Germany, England and France, was the first coach of the freshly set up Saudi women’s football team in 2021 before moving to her present role in February.


The football team played their first games in February 2022. Saudi Arabia Football Federation board member Lamia bin Bahian stated the goal was for the SA side to participate in the World Cup within ten years.


Monika said it may take longer, but the quicker route could be to play in the football tournament as the host nation.


Women World Cup


“I am not sure now anymore if it’ll really happen in ten years; I told them 2035 could be the realistic aim because we started in 2021… For me, it is more realistic to host the Women’s World Cup in Saudi Arabia.”


The women’s World Cup hosts usually get a short time to prepare, with the 2027 host nation set to be appointed by FIFA in May 2024.


Saudi Arabia is already bidding to host the 2026 Women’s Asian Cup, which will be decided this month.


It is part of a wider strategy of the Gulf country to host huge sporting events. Saudi will host the men’s Club World Cup later that year, having already hosted the men’s Spanish Super Cup (SSC) and events in Formula One and boxing.


Equality problem


A bid for the men’s World Cup in 2030 is anticipated to come through. Critics have accused Saudi of using sport to cover up its bad record on human rights and equality problems in a country where men still retain a tight grip on power.

That was part of the backlash to the possible Visit Saudi Arabia sponsorship of this year’s women’s World Cup, to be held in New Zealand and Australia from July 20-August. 20. World soccer governing body, the Fédération Internationale de football association (FIFA), announced in March that the Saudi tourism board wouldn’t sponsor the tournament.


Monika, who has worked as a coach in Bahrain and Qatar, said she wasn’t best placed to comment on the sponsorship problem but that it was important for the Fédération Internationale de football association to look at ways to help women’s football in nations that were early in their development.


She said, “I have been in 88 nations in the last fifteen years to develop women’s football, especially in Africa where the economic resources are very weak,”


“No fields are available, no equipment. So FIFA has been doing a good job in India, helping football grow, especially in nations where money is not easy to access for women’s football.

“So, I think it’s always great when FIFA has the chance to help these developing nations to get better and to rich one day like the United States, Germany and England.”


It would help, she said, if more women players were in leadership positions. Currently, it is understood that 9 of FIFA’s 211 member associations are led by women.


Monika said, “It’s I to get more women in this male-dominated football globe. Because we’ve a different views, we’ve different ideas that contribute to the game for everyone. And that’s what we stand for. I think all men should be thinking in that way,”


icon-facebook icon-twitter icon-whatsapp