Khartoum / Wad Madani / El Obeid / Kadugli — The first women's football league in Sudan was launched at the end of September. Last Friday, imam Abdelhay Yousef of the Jabra mosque in Khartoum issued a number of fatwas against women's football. Minister of Youth and Sports Walaa El Boushi, supported by the cabinet, filed a lawsuit against him.
Mervat Hussein, the head of the Women's Football Committee of the Sudanese Football Union, said in an interview with Radio Dabanga that is broadcasted today, that the women's tournament, which began on September 30, is the first tournament to be held in large stadiums. It has officially been approved by the Sudanese Football Union and is supported by the International Football Federation.
First set of matches
Hussein explained that the league will finish its first set of matches next week. 19 teams participated in four groups. The Khartoum group finished their first round of matches on Wednesday, the Wad Madani group on Tuesday. The El Obeid and Kadugli groups will finish their matches next week.
Hussein said two clubs had to decide not to participate: the Singa family football club, due to the studies of its players, and the El Mifagiya team of Khartoum, because of special circumstances.
She expressed her satisfaction with the number of clubs participating and expected new teams to join later.
Hussein said that the second round of games of the league will start early November. In this round the best and the second best teams from each of the four group will compete against each other.
She stressed that the games are open to all and free of charge, denying rumours that men are not allowed to watch the games. The second round of the league will be broadcasted on television.
Imam Abdelhay Yousef
The head of the Women's Football Committee praised the positive response to the women's football league. She stressed that the change that took place in the country provided the appropriate conditions for women's football to be accepted.
She played down any difference between men's and women's sports and said that most Arab and islamic countries have women's sport leagues. She called on everyone to support women's sports.
Hussein said she distanced herself from the intense debate over the legality of women's football and the radical religious fatwas from imam Abdelhay Yousef.
Last Friday, imam Abdelhay Yousef launched a sharp verbal attack on the transitional government and the woman Minister of Youth and Sports, Walaa El Boushi. "The minister does not believe in what we believe", he said.
In his sermon, Abdelhay said the women's football league "serves the purposes of foreign countries". He described the minister as "one of the chicks" who were raised in an American exchange programme.
The accusations prompted Minister El Boushi to file a lawsuit against the imam on Monday, for incitement, endangering her safety, defaming her reputation, contempt, and insulting religious beliefs and rituals.
The cabinet declared its solidarity with the minister: El Boushi implemented government policy and should not be lashed out at as a person by imam Yousef. The cabinet directed the Ministry of Justice to demonstrate its solidarity.
Minister of Youth and Sports Walaa El Boushi
Started in 2001
Women's football activities started in Sudan in 2001 when El Tahadi team was established at the Komboni schools, as well as women's sports activity in universities such as El Ahfad University for Women. Women's football games began in 2016. Occasional matches were organised before that as well.
A woman has trained a men's football team in Sudan as well.
Hussein said that the preparation for the current league began two years ago by registering teams in local unions in Sudanese cities. 18 new teams were registered since 2017 and workshops to train referees and trainers have been held.
Women's football team in El Obeid (RD correspondent)