A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Headline of the Week? "Nude Wife of Saudi Football Coach Sparks Anger."

From Al-Arabiya: "Nude Wife of Saudi Football Coach Sparks Anger."

A grabber of a headline. Did a Saudi coach's wife attend the game stark naked instead of in full abaya? Well, no. The coach isn't himself Saudi, and the wife isn't always nude (I assume) and may not be coming to the KSA. Still, female nudity and Saudi Arabia being the matter and antimatter of the Middle East, an explosion was predictable.

Here's the story. The most prominent and popular Saudi football (soccer to us Yanks) club, Al-Hilal just hired Romanian Laurenţiu Reghecampf as its new coach. His contract is reportedly worth $2.5 million. But it has been learned that his wife (and reportedly his agent), Ana Maria (or Anamaria) Prodan, has a profile not typical of Saudi women. As Al-Arabiya puts it:
Prodan is reportedly the first female FIFA-licensed agent in Romania. A Las Vegas resident, she supplements her income through gambling and modeling. Her latter work includes a photo-shoot for Playboy.
Professional woman who gambles, models, and poses for Playboy? Pretty much a trifecta for the Hay'a, the Saudi Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, also known as the Religious Police. There is no confirmation she is even planning to relocate, with her husband, to the Kingdom (she lives in Las Vegas, a place somewhat different from Riyadh), but that hasn't prevented an uproar that may jeopardize Reghecampf's brand-new contract. (The fact that many Saudis resent the replacement of the previous Arab coach is also a factor.)

Among other things, tattoos are taboo
As far as I can tell through extensive research (aka looking on Google), she has only appeared in the Romanian edition of Playboy, which I assume does not circulate widely outside Romania and maybe Moldova, and quite certainly is not readily available in Saudi Arabia. The PG-13 photo at right seems to be from this shoot, and the (concealed) nudity is compounded by another no-no to strict Muslims: tattoos.

Whatever the Saudis do, my image of sports agents is changed forever.

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