A female referee has been listed in Saudi Arabia's international officials ©Getty Images

FIFA has appointed its first female international referee from Saudi Arabia, one of the most oppressive countries for women in the world.

Anoud Al-Asmari was named as one of the eight submitted by the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF).

"I am happy to be the first Saudi female referee to receive the international badge in the history of Saudi sports," Al-Asmari told AFP.

The 34-year-old started her officiating career in 2018 according to the Saudi Gazette, refereeing matches related to the women's national team.

She added that she would not give thought to officiating a men's match until given permission by the SAFF.

Saudi Arabia is looking to change its image with Vision 2030, a strategy that moves away from reliance on fossil fuels such as its oil reserves towards tourism, sport and soft power around the way.

Part of that strategy requires improvements in human rights for its citizens - particularly women - to attract visitors from overseas.

Some of the events held in the country since Vision 2030 was unveiled include the boxing match between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz and several professional wrestling matches as part of a long-term deal with World Wrestling Entertainment.

These matches included the first women's wrestling matches in Saudi Arabia, which required the wrestlers to compete in head-to-toe outfits covering their bodies, unlike their male colleagues.

Women's and LGBTQ rights are still poor in Saudi Arabia ©Getty Images
Women's and LGBTQ rights are still poor in Saudi Arabia ©Getty Images

Due to religious fundamentalist law in the country, women are discriminated against in everyday life, particularly in marriage, family, and divorce.

Although somewhat reformed, women in Saudi Arabia still require a male guardian.

LGBTQ people in Saudi Arabia suffer severe human rights abuses in the country too through the nation's legislation.

A women's football league was set up in November 2021, while the women's national team defeated Seychelles 2-0 in their first-ever official international match in February 2022.

Saudi Arabia is to hold the 2027 Asian Cup and has applied to host the 2026 Women's Asian Cup.

Australia, Jordan and Uzbekistan are believed to be interested in holding the tournament too.

Saudi Arabia is also considering a bid for the 2030 FIFA World Cup with Egypt and Greece - with Saudi club Al-Nassr recently signing Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo, regarded as one of the greatest players in history.

Ronaldo infamously left Manchester United after publicly criticising the club in interviews, but will be regarded as an ambassador for Saudi Arabia's bid for the World Cup.