Afghanistan: Sport bodies call for emergency evacuation of female players

The first Afghanistan women's football team was formed in 2007

Football’s world governing body Fifa has written to a number of governments to request the emergency evacuation of female players from Afghanistan.

Players are said to fear for their lives following the Taliban’s takeover of the Afghan capital Kabul.

Players’ organisation Fifpro is also calling for help.

The union said it was working with governments to establish an evacuation plan, adding: “The ambition is to bring as many people to safety as possible.”

Earlier this week, former Afghanistan national women’s team captain Khalida Popal pleaded with sporting bodies to “help get our players safe” because she fears for those left behind under the Taliban rule.

Many of the country’s female footballers have gone into hiding since the takeover.

“I have not been able to sleep, I have been crying and feeling helpless,” said Popal, who was pivotal in forming the first Afghanistan women’s football team in 2007.

During their previous rule some 20 years ago, the Taliban stopped girls from receiving any form of education.

Women were unable to leave their homes without a male relative, were not allowed to work and were forced to wear the all-covering burqa. Those who defied them commonly received punishments and beatings.

Haley Carter, former assistant coach of the Afghan women’s team, is among those to have been in contact with a number of players in hiding.

“If anybody finds out that they’re talking to anyone on the outside, their life is in even more danger,” Carter told BBC World Service Sport.

The US Marines veteran said she had received a message from one player saying: “They are going to kill us. They don’t want girls to play football and we’re in risk.”

Carter has advised players in hiding to “stay smart, stay safe and be patient”, as she joined Popal in calling on sporting bodies to help protect those most at risk.

A Fifa spokesperson said in a statement: “The situation in Afghanistan remains unstable and very worrying.

“We remain in contact with the Afghanistan Football Federation, and other stakeholders, and continue to receive updates from players in the country.”

Source: BBC