The Australian government has evacuated more than 50
women footballers and athletes and their dependents from
Afghanistan following an appeal by world bodies Fifa and
A statement by the international footballers’ federation
Fifpro expressed gratitude to Australia.
Following the retaking of Kabul by the Taliban, many
Afghan sportswomen went into hiding.
The statement said work was still needed to settle the
“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,” Fifpro said of an evacuation that was
for more than 50 people according to news sources
“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.”
Afghanistan’s former football captain Khalida Popal who
had led calls for an emergency evacuation described the
evacuation of a group that included members of the
Afghanistan national women’s football team and their
youth team as “an important victory”.
However, she cautioned that more work was still needed
in saving others from an uncertain fate.
“The women footballers have been brave and strong in a
moment of crisis and we hope they will have a better life
outside Afghanistan,” said Popal, 34. “Women’s football is
a family and we must make sure everyone is safe.”
Fifpro General Secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann said
evacuating the women was “an incredibly complex
process for everyone involved. Our hearts go out to all the
others who remain stranded in the country against their
Last week, football’s governing body Fifa and Fifpro wrote
to governments around the world requesting assistance,
as players feared for their lives.
“I have not been able to sleep, I have been crying and
feeling helpless,” Popal said.
When the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in the
late-1990s, girls were prevented from attending school
after the age of 10 and many forced into child marriage.
Under the oppressive rule, which ended in 2001 after a
military campaign spearheaded by US armed forces,
women could not leave home alone and were forced to
wear the burqa.