Exiled Afghan women footballers continue fight for right of play
Many of the exiled footballers now live in Australia, after fleeing death threats by the Taliban in August 2021. The regime is against women playing sports, and has also recently taken issue with youths enjoying music.
Khalida Popal, the team’s founder, flew in from Denmark to meet the players.
“They keep telling me, ‘We feel like we are dreaming … it’s very difficult to believe that we’re actually here,’” Popal told CNN.
Two years ago, Popal begged the international community for help to get the team out of Afghanistan. Today, she is joined by Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Malala Yousafzai, and over 100 lawmakers from Australia and several nations in Europe as they urge FIFA to recognise the Afghanistan women's team, allowing them the right to play in competitions sanctioned by the world body.
“We have not only the senior women’s national team, we have the youth teams around Europe, and even some of them in the US and Canada,” she said.
“Can these Afghan players from diaspora represent Afghanistan at international games? It’s not that difficult. It’s not like going to the moon.”
Behram Siddiqui, secretary-general of the Afghan Football Federation, told CNN that FIFA had contacted the body about the Afghan women’s team, and the federation had told them it was against its rules for the women to play through a club.
“Neither can we support nor can we oppose the team if they play. Also, if they come through Afghanistan right now, we can’t support them as here the government has some restrictions,” he was quoted as saying.
Popal said the Afghan Football Federation will fight for the women's team as doing so will incur the wrath of the Taliban who will punish those who defend women’s rights.
“If the Afghan Football Federation recognise a team and say: ‘Yes, we accept a team to represent Afghanistan,’ they can be shot. They can be stoned. They can be killed,” she said.
Read the full article here.