Following the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, female footballers and their families made their way across the Torkham border and reached Pakistan on Tuesday night after the government issued emergency humanitarian visas to evacuate them.
Several footballers on the national junior girls’ football team faced threats from the Taliban because of their involvement in sports. Originally, they were to travel to Qatar, where Afghan refugees have been housing at a facility for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. However, on Aug 26, a bomb blast left them stranded at the Kabul airport.
Most of the Afghan women’s team flew out to Australia in the last week of August after an arrangement with the Australian government. Unfortunately, the youth team lacked passports and other documents, so they were unable to fly. Since then, they had been hiding to evade the Taliban.
A total of 115 people, including 32 footballers and their families, have come to Pakistan. British NGO Football for Peace initiated the effort in collaboration with the government. As well as the Pakistan Football Federation of Ashfaq Hussain Shah – FIFA does not recognize it.
During a visit to Doha last week, FIFA president Gianni Infantino met with Afghan refugees. Nevertheless, the global football body has been criticized for its inaction in helping the female footballers still in Afghanistan.
According to Britain’s Independent newspaper, Prime Minister Imran Khan was more likely to allow the players to be admitted to Pakistan if FIFA made the request.
“We launched these efforts a few weeks ago and we’re extremely thankful to the government and PFF president Ashfaq Hussain Shah and vice president Aamir Dogar for facilitating us,” Pakistan ambassador of Football for Peace Sardar Naveed Haider Khan, a former member of Ashfaq’s PFF, told Dawn News.
Pakistan greets the team on its arrival in Lahore
They will travel from Peshawar to Lahore, where they will reside in the PFF headquarters, whose takeover by the court-elected Ashfaq PFF from the FIFA-appointed PFF Normalisation Committee forced FIFA to revoke Pakistan’s Fifa status.
“We are supporters of humanity,” Ashfaq told Dawn News. “When we learned about this, we immediately acted. And tried our best to help them reach Pakistan as quickly as possible.”
“We welcome Afghanistan women football team, they arrived at Torkham Border from Afghanistan,” said Fawad Chaudhry in a Tweet. He added that they were received by a representative of the Pakistan Football Federation.
A Taliban representative last week told Australian broadcaster SBS that he did not think women would be allowed to play cricket. The reason being, it was “not necessary” and would be against Islam.
Story Courtesy: Dawn News
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