By Souad Sbai
With veil and without veil, alone or accompanied, scarves around the neck and waving flags: they were the real winners of the Italian Supercup that took place in Jeddah: Saudi women.
The winners despite the detractors by profession, especially those who fueled the controversy on behalf of other countries, wishing the failure of the initiative. Of course, I talk about Qatar and its spokespersons here in Italy. It is better that these people did not watch the match, because they would have seen their affirmation denied through the smiling faces of the large number of women who filled the stadium. A beautiful celebration not only for them, but for all Arab and Muslim women: for women who continue to live in situations of submission and for those who fight for their rights in Europe. It is something much more important than a mere expression of hope; it is a concrete change that is advancing.
Therefore, we must give a big round applause to the Italian sport that offered an important “assist” to the process of reform and opening initiated by the new Saudi leader. This is what human rights need, that is, the intervention of the international community to promote the policies of the governments that really intend to promote them in contexts where there are numerous obstacles to overcome. On the other hand, they do not need to be exploited, as happened during the weeks preceding the event celebrated in Jeddah that is an example for the whole region.
After the Super Cup, there is another game to be won: the 2022 World Cup. Do the Qatari Emirs, in the fundamentalist hands of the Muslim Brotherhood, recognize the women’s right of women to go freely to the stadium? Will they finally take concrete measures to put an end to the human rights violations suffered by the foreign workers who are building the stadiums? Will they end terrorism financing? For Qatar, the 2022 World Cup is an opportunity that must not be missed in order to be able to shed the “rogue state” status now granted by the entire international community. The emirs should take advantage of this new “assist” received from the sport, but there are strong doubts about their willingness to do so.