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Afghanistan's women footballers face bleak future

By Ranjit
Afghanistan

Bengaluru, November 29: Ever since the aggressive Taliban regime took control in Afghanistan, the plight of women in the country had come to the spotlight, esepcially that of the female footballers.

It may be recalled that on August 15, the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan's capital Kabul and announced a new government after US-led foreign forces withdrew and the Western-backed government collapsed.

The last time the Taliban ruled over Afghanistan, women were barred from taking part in sport, or from working outside the home, and had to cover themselves from head to toe when in public.

The Islamist movement was ousted in the US-led invasion in 2001, but 20 years later history repeated itself in Kabul..

Once the Taliban took control again, the women feared for their lives and the safety of their families.

In August soon after the Taliban took over the country, a former player in the Afghanistan women's national football team -- Fanoos Basir -- fled and said there was no future for her under the new dispensation.

An attempt to board an evacuation flight to Qatar failed in August following a suicide attack at Kabul airport, so the young women scrambled to leave Afghanistan overland, via Pakistan, through the Torkham border, in mid-September.

Thiugh they eventually managed to fly to London in November after two tough months, according to a report in CNN, these women footballers' face a very uncertain future.

"I feel sad and worried, and I want to be able to go back to my home. We never dreamt of leaving our country, but it's very difficult and scary knowing that as women, we lost our light, our freedom that we had in Afghanistan," Sabreyah Nowrozi, the 24-year-old team captain of Afghanistan's women's football team, was quoted as saying by CNN. 

FIFA President Gianni Infantino had visited the Afghan refugees during his trip to Doha recently, but the game's global governing body has been criticised for its inaction in aiding the female footballers.

The game's global governing body had said that it had worked with the Qatari government to evacuate many women football players and their families from Afghanistan.

But despite all the rhetoric flying around, the future of these 100-odd Afghan women football players and their families look bleak for now.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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Story first published: Monday, November 29, 2021, 13:40 [IST]
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