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Afghanistan women’s national football team evacuated from Kabul

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Afghanistan women’s national football team have been successfully evacuated from Kabul after it was reported that the women were at risk of becoming sex slaves to the Taliban and being tortured to death.

The footballers were among a group of more than 75 people evacuated on a flight from Kabul on Tuesday, August 24.

Global football players’ union FIFPRO thanked the Australian government for making the evacuation of players, team officials, and family members possible, with work continuing to help more leave Afghanistan.

‘These young women, both as athletes and activists, have been in a position of danger and on behalf of their peers around the world we thank the international community for coming to their aid,’ the union said in a statement.

During Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001, many sports and recreational activities including football were banned for all citizens, while women were forbidden from even leaving the house without being accompanied by a male relative.

Players had been advised this month to delete social media posts and photographs of them with the team to help avoid reprisals since the United States-backed Afghanistan government fell.

‘The last few days have been extremely stressful but today we have achieved an important victory,’ former team captain Khalida Popal said.

Popal is among a team of FIFPRO lawyers and advisors who have worked with authorities in six countries, including Australia, the US and United Kingdom, to get athletes and their families on to evacuation lists and flights to safety.

‘The women footballers have been brave and strong in a moment of crisis and we hope they will have a better life outside Afghanistan,’ Popal said.

FIFPRO general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann said evacuations had been ‘an incredibly complex process.’

‘Our hearts go out to all the others who remain stranded in the country against their will,’ he said.

 

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