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Sudan women's national football team

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Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname(s) The Challenge
Association Sudan Football Association
Confederation CAF (Africa)
Sub-confederation CECAFA
(East & Central Africa)
FIFA ranking
Current not ranked

The Sudan women's national football team is an unofficial, non-Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) recognised team called The Challenge that plays in a domestic competition in Khartoum against teams wearing traditional Muslim garb. It played its first competitive match in 2006. No FIFA recognised senior national team has played a single FIFA-recognised game. The development of a national team faces several challenges common to much of Africa, along with Sudan-specific issues such as religion. There is an additional problem of a fatwa banning the creation of women's teams.

The team[edit]

In 1985, few countries in the world had a women's national football team,[1] including Sudan. A FIFA recognised Sudanese national team has never participated in a major regional and international event. As of June 2012, the team has not played a single FIFA sanctioned game.[2] The country has never entered the Women's World Cup,[3][4] competed in the 2010 African Women's Championships,[5] or participated in the 2011 All-Africa Games.[6] As of March 2012, no team from the country appears on FIFA's worldwide ranking,[7] and a national team did not officially exist.[8]

Sudan is one of the only two Muslim countries in the region to have a women's league. According to Mårtensson and Bailey in Fundamentalism in the Modern World Vol 2: Fundamentalism and Communication: Culture, Media and the Public Sphere, the fact that Sudan has a women's league could be critical for the development of a national team. An informal national team called "The Challenge" has been created inside the league. This team refuses to wear the hijab or wear traditional Muslim clothing while playing and is based in Khartoum. The unofficial national team is not recognised by, nor receives support, from the Sudan Football Association.[9][10] In 2006, the team played its first competitive match. The team was captained by Sara Edward and played against a side from Sudan University that wore traditional garb. The quality of play was not high and the game ended in a 2-0 win for the Challenge team.[4][9][11]

The national team continues to lack FIFA recognition. In 2012, the "Islamic Fiqh Council in Sudan issued a fatwa (religious order) saying that it is forbidden for the country to create a women's soccer team, deeming it an immoral act",[12] in response to a question from FIFA regarding the feasibility of creating a team.[13][14] The fatwah suggested that football is a men's sport and women should not participate in it because it challenges the differences between men and women.[15]

Background and development[edit]

Women's football in Africa in general faces many challenges, including limited access to education, poverty amongst women in the wider society, and fundamental inequality that occasionally allows for female specific human rights abuses.[16] At the same time, if quality female players in Africa are developed, many leave their home countries to seek greater football opportunities in places such as Northern Europe or the United States.[12][17] Funding for women's football in Africa is also an issue; most of the funding for women's football and for the women's national teams comes from FIFA, not the national football association.[17]

Inside the Sudan, religion is an issue with growing the game. Most footballers wanting to play are required to wear the hijab and play while fully covered.[4][9] While football was organised inside the country with 440 men's clubs in 2006,[18] and the first ever women's game being played in the country that year in February between Tahadi and Sudan University at Sports’ City, Sudan University,[19] development was hindered because a fatwa by the Fiqh Council of Islamic in 2006 condemning the creation of a women's league in Sudan.[13] Still, in the South Sudan in 2006, the local government was indicating their support of women's football.[20] By 2009, women's football programmes had been established in the Sudan. That year, there were ten senior women's teams, a school-based competition and a regional competition established.[21][22] Young girls informally play the game in refugee camps in the Darfur region.[23][24] Rights to broadcast the 2011 Women's World Cup in the country were bought by Al Jazeera.[25]

The Sudan Football Association, which was founded in 1946, and FIFA affiliated in 1948,[18] was one of the founding members of Confederation of African Football, and continues to be a member of the Confederation.[3][26] In November 2011, a female association member, Laila Khalid, attended a meeting in South Africa where women's football was discussed, specifically mentioning the problems faced in growing the game in Africa.[12]


  1. ^ Chrös McDougall (1 January 2012). Soccer. ABDO. p. 45. ISBN 978-1-61783-146-1. Retrieved 13 April 2012. 
  2. ^ "Sudan: Fixtures and Results". FIFA. Retrieved 10 June 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Tom Dunmore (16 September 2011). Historical Dictionary of Soccer. Scarecrow Press. pp. 568–569. ISBN 978-0-8108-7188-5. Retrieved 13 April 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c "Sudanese women play first competitive soccer — Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan". Sudan Tribune. Retrieved 2012-04-21. 
  5. ^ "Fixtures — African Women Championship 2010 - CAF". Archived from the original on 2012-04-14. Retrieved 2012-04-13. 
  6. ^ "Groups & standings — All Africa Games women 2011 - CAF". Archived from the original on 2012-05-10. Retrieved 2012-04-13. 
  7. ^ "The FIFA Women's World Ranking". FIFA. 25 September 2009. Retrieved 13 April 2012. 
  8. ^ "Tanzania yapaa viwango FIFA" (in Swahili). New Habari. 4 June 2012. Retrieved 4 June 2012. Nchi nyingine za CECAFA ambazo ni Rwanda, Burundi, Djibouti, Somalia na Sudan hazina soka la wanawake la ushindani kiasi ya kuwa na timu ya taifa. [permanent dead link]
  9. ^ a b c Ulrika Mårtensson; Jennifer Bailey (19 July 2011). Fundamentalism in the Modern World Vol 2: Fundamentalism and Communication: Culture, Media and the Public Sphere. I.B.Tauris. pp. 320–325. ISBN 978-1-84885-331-7. Retrieved 13 April 2012. 
  10. ^ Northcroft, Jonathan (June 3, 2007). "Big game hunters — Football". The Sunday Times. London, England. p. 12. Retrieved 21 April 2012. 
  11. ^ فتيات كرة القدم السودانية يبحثن عن ملاعب ومخرج لورطتهن (in Arabic). Retrieved 2012-04-21. 
  12. ^ a b c "Sudan’s Islamic Fiqh Council bans formation of womens soccer team — Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan". Sudan Tribune. Archived from the original on March 29, 2012. Retrieved 2012-04-21. 
  13. ^ a b "الرياضة النسائية .."1"". 23 June 2011. Retrieved 21 April 2012. وبين يدي فتوى أخرى صادرة عن ذات مجمع الفقه الإسلامي حول تكوين فرق نسائية لكرة القدم ... بالإشارة إلى استفتائك بتاريخ: 5/ يناير2012م عن الموضوع أعلاه، وسؤالك عن: هل يجوز تكوين فرق نسائية لكرة القدم تنافس في إفريقيا وآسيا وأوربا استجابة لتوجيه «الفيفا» التي تطلب منا ذلك: نفيدك بأن الدائرة المختصة بالمجمع قد درست هذا الموضوع، وأجابت عنه بالآتي: ... ثانياً: وعليه فإن تكوين فرق نسائية لكرة القدم لتلعب خارج السودان في إفريقيا وآسيا وأروبا لا شك أولى بالحظر والمنع، فهو أكثر مفسدة ... الثاً: إن طلب «الفيفا» تكوين هذه الفرق لا يصلح دليلاً لجواز الممنوع، ولا رافعاً لحكم الشريعة 
  14. ^ فتوى بتحريم الكرة النسائية فى السودان (in Arabic). January 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2012. 
  15. ^ شبكة المشكاة الإسلامية (in Arabic). 2012-02-16. Retrieved 2012-04-21. 
  16. ^ Jean Williams (15 December 2007). A Beautiful Game: International Perspectives on Women's Football. Berg. p. 186. ISBN 978-1-84520-674-1. Retrieved 13 April 2012. 
  17. ^ a b Gabriel Kuhn (24 February 2011). Soccer Vs. the State: Tackling Football and Radical Politics. PM Press. p. 34. ISBN 978-1-60486-053-5. Retrieved 13 April 2012. 
  18. ^ a b FIFA (2006). "Women's Football Today" (PDF): 184. Retrieved 17 April 2012. 
  19. ^ "Girls football kicks off in Sudan – Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan". Sudan Tribune. Retrieved 2012-04-21. 
  20. ^ "TEXT- Salava Kiir statement before South Sudan parliament – Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan". Sudan Tribune. Retrieved 2012-04-21. 
  21. ^ "Goal! Football: Sudan" (PDF). FIFA. 21 April 2009. p. 3. Retrieved 16 April 2012. 
  22. ^ "South Sudan prepares for East African sports competitions". Sudan Tribune. Retrieved 21 April 2012. 
  23. ^ "Desperation leads Darfur children to take aid workers hostage – Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan". Sudan Tribune. Retrieved 2012-04-21. 
  24. ^ "Sudan's neglected nightmare – Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan". Sudan Tribune. Retrieved 2012-04-21. 
  25. ^ "FIFA Women's World Cup Germany 2011TM Media Rights Licensees" (PDF). FIFA. 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 21 April 2012. 
  26. ^ Saavedra, Martha E. "Women’s Football in the Horn of Africa" (PDF). African Women’s Football in the Global Sports Arena. Retrieved 21 April 2012. 

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