September 9 – Afghan women’s football is set to be banned in the country, along with all other sports activity for women, according to the deputy head of the Taliban’s cultural commission, Ahmadullah Wasiq.
Wasiq said that sports where a woman would be required to expose parts of their face and body would not be allowed under Islamic rules.
Speaking to Australian broadcaster SBS, Wasiq said: “I don’t think women will be allowed to play cricket because it is not necessary that women should play cricket,” Wasiq said. “In cricket, they might face a situation where their face and body will not be covered. Islam does not allow women to be seen like this.
“It is the media era, and there will be photos and videos, and then people watch it. Islam and the Islamic Emirate [Afghanistan] do not allow women to play cricket or play the kind of sports where they get exposed.”
At the end of August players from Afghanistan’s women’s team were among group of 77 athletes and family members airlifted out of Kabul to Australia.
“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,” player’s union FIFpro said in a statement.
“We urge the international community to make sure that they receive all the help they need. There are also many athletes still at risk in Afghanistan and every effort should be made to offer them support.”
Former Afghanistan captain and team founder Khalida Popal, whose claims of sexual abuse against disgraced former Afghan Football Federation president Keramuddin Keram led to FIFA banning him, warned many female players had gone into hiding.
Reports said Popal, along with former team coaches Kelly Lindsey and Haley Carter, were the driving forces to get the players on evacuation lists.
Popal described the evacuation as “an important victory” and added: “The women footballers have been brave and strong in a moment of crisis and we hope they will have a better life outside Afghanistan. Women’s football is a family and we must make sure everyone is safe.”
It is unclear how many of Afghanistan’s women’s team have been evacuated or whether there is any possibility for them to continue playing under their country’s banner, albeit outside the country. For players and young girls in Afghanistan it now looks like the opportunity to play the game has been closed.
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