GEJOLAK.COM – ITV has featured a pioneering all-female panel for a men’s World Cup game for the first time ever.
Presenter Seema Jaswal and former England internationals Karen Carney and Eni Aluko made up the broadcaster’s team for the Poland v Saudi Arabia clash on Saturday.
Nadia Nadim, an ex-Denmark international, had been due to be part of the ITV team, but dropped out after the death of his mother.
Women’s rights in nations taking part in the tournament in Qatar have become a major talking point during the first-ever World Cup held in the Middle East.
Before their Group B opener with England, Iran’s football team refused to sing the Islamic Republic’s national anthem in solidarity with protesters taking to the streets over the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, after she was arrested for allegedly breaching Iran’s strict rules on wearing the hijab.
A female Iranian fan, Yasi, who was brandishing a Mahsa Amini jersey at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium before the Wales match, was seen being spoken to by Qatari officials.
“There are so many brave women and men on the streets just for their basic rights. None of this matters. This game means nothing,” she told i.
“The people in Iran just want to live, but my people don’t have that. It’s the least I could do.
In Saudi Arabia, women still require a male guardian’s approval to get married.
Amnesty International has said women in Saudia Arabia “continue to face serious discrimination in marriage, divorce, inheritance and child custody”.
Meanwhile, it has been reported that Fifa’s Security and Safety Operations Committee (SSOC) warned police in Qatar not to treat women as criminals if they report being raped or sexually assaulted.
Pregnant women should also “not face any accusations” and should be given medical care if required, guidance issued by the football body’s security and safety team states, according to the Daily Mail. It is illegal to be pregnant and unmarried in Qatar.
It comes after a female World Cup official fled Qatar after facing 100 lashes and seven years in jail for ‘extramarital sex’ after she reported being sexually assaulted while working in the Gulf state.
Paola Schietekat, 28, from Mexico, was working for the World Cup organising committee when she complained that she was raped by an associate who broke into her apartment and threatened to kill her.
The case against her was dropped in April.
Qatar’s Supreme Committee, which heads up the 2022 World Cup, has stated that “Qatar protects and promotes the rights of women, and this extends to all women visiting for the World Cup”.
This year’s competition has also seen female referees Stephanie Frappart, Yoshimi Yamashita and Salima Mukasanga become the first women in history to officiate at the men’s World Cup match.
They are joined by three more assistant referees in Neuza Back, Karen Diaz and Kathryn Nesbitt.