Afghan athletes flee the country after the Taliban seize power

A group of the women's soccer team left the country (khalida_popal)
A group of the women’s soccer team left the country (khalida_popal)

The climate of tension and hostility reigns Afghanistan after the coming to power of the Taliban regime. The reflection of the sensitive situation is exposed with the decisions of some athletes to leave the country in various ways. After learning about the evacuation carried out weeks ago by some athletes with the help of the professional soccer players union (FIFPro), it was learned that a group that was part of the women’s soccer team of that country went to Pakistan in the company of their relatives.

As the medium replied Bloomberg in the voice of Pakistan’s information minister, Fawad Chaudhry, the players entered the country through the north-western border crossing at Torkham with valid travel documents. “We welcome the Afghanistan women’s soccer team. The players were in possession of a valid passport and a visa “Chaudhry tweeted, offering no further details.

To counteract the information released by newspapers and television stations, Bilal Karimi, spokesman for the Taliban, assured that he does not know the reason for his departure from the country and warned that “They would have left of their own free will”. “We will consult with the Olympic or sports authorities but they have left of their own accord,” he added.

“There was a commitment that was given to them by the Americans,” before leaving Afghanistan last month, he said for his part Farasat Ali Shah, director of the Pakistan Football Federation. “They are in transit to Europe or America,” he added.

View of Afghans trying to access the Kabul airport to leave Afghanistan, on August 26, 2021 (EFE)
View of Afghans trying to access the Kabul airport to leave Afghanistan, on August 26, 2021 (EFE)

The Pakistani daily in English The DAWN reported on Wednesday that athletes received humanitarian emergency visas after the takeover of Kabul by the insurgents. The group tried to expose a more moderate approach since its arrival to power in the discursive way, ensuring that they would allow the participation of women in work or sports, adapting to the interpretations of Islamic law, but their attitudes so far did not quite coincide with that.

A Taliban official, however, confirmed that, following the government’s interpretation of Islam, women can’t really no sport in which they can be exposed. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to inform the press before an official announcement by authorities.

Days ago, in an interview with the Australian station SBS, the deputy head of the Taliban cultural commission, Ahmadullah Wasiq, said that women’s sport is not considered appropriate or necessary. “I don’t think women are allowed to play cricket because they don’t have to. In cricket, they may face a situation where their face and body are not covered. Islam does not allow women to be seen like this. It’s the media age, there will be photos and videos, and then people will see it. Islam and Afghanistan do not allow women to play cricket or play sports in which they are exposed”, He communicated.

Former captain of the national soccer team, Khalida Popal (AP)
Former captain of the national soccer team, Khalida Popal (AP)

Despite some reassuring messages for Afghanistan women Following their return to power and promises to form an inclusive administration, the Taliban acted in the opposite direction by forming the new cabinet, which is only made up of Taliban men with troubling backgrounds. There are no political figures in the country and no women.

Women’s rights have become a central issue within the regime, even more so with this stance on women’s sport. As reported The Guardian, the leaders of the cricket of Afghanistan state that they have not been officially informed about the destination of their discipline although some women have already denounced receiving threats from Taliban fighters if they saw them playing.


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