Unable to persuade Qatari leaders to drop their support for the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups, Saudi Arabia appears determined to deprive its tiny neighbor of its regional soccer supremacy.
Saudi Arabia, under domestic and international pressure to grant women sporting rights, is creating separate stadium sections so that female spectators and journalists can attend soccer matches in a country that has no public physical education or sporting facilities for women.
The Arab Spring uprisings have pushed back reforms of gender discriminatory laws in the region. It would be ironic if the course of women's rights in one of the most repressive Muslim countries flowed against this trend.
Last Sunday, history was made in Saudi Arabia when the recently sworn-in Shura Council, the country's consultative assembly, held its first session with 30 women appointees participating for the first time.
Middle Eastern soccer associations have launched a campaign to put women's soccer on par with men's football in a region in which a woman's right to play and pursue an athletic career remains controversial and at a time at which political Islam is on the rise.
The images of two strong, courageous young Saudi women athletes will forever exist as part of Saudi history. If you listen to the voices of the women interviewed herein, you can hear that a bell of hope and expectation has been rung.