Germany's Staab impressed by Saudi Arabian love of football

01.12.2021, 12:40

Germany's Monika Staab, the newly appointed coach of the Saudi Arabia women's football team, is impressed by the devotion of fans to the sport in the country.

"The Saudis are exactly as football-crazy as we Europeans," she told the portal.

"On the day of my arrival, the men's national team had a World Cup qualifier. There were 50,000 people in the stadium in Jeddah, also many women and children. All sung through the 90 minutes.

"I felt like I was in Dortmund or Schalke."

Staab was appointed in September with the task of building up the Saudi women's team, who will play their first international early next year.

Women's football was banned in the country for many years but Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has been accused of human rights abuses, is backing the project.

And Staab dismisses suggestions Saudi Arabia is using sport to create a positive impression of country despite alleged violations of human rights.

"Of course Saudi Arabia wants to improve its reputation," the 62-year-old said. "But what I see here is not sportwashing.

"I don't want to talk more about politics. It's not my mission. I'm here to develop women's football."