Girls who played for under 14, under 16 and under 18 teams arrive in Lahore after the takeover of Taliban.
Members of Afghanistan’s national women’s soccer team fled across the border to Pakistan, a month after the Taliban returned to power, officials said.
According to Pakistani Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, the players entered Pakistan through the northwestern border crossing of Torkham with valid travel documents.
‘We welcome the women’s soccer team from Afghanistan, they arrived at the border from Torkham from Afghanistan. The players were in possession of a valid Afghanistan passport, a Pakistani visa and were received by Nouman Nadeem of PFF (Pakistan Football Federation), ‘Chaudhry tweeted on Wednesday, providing no further details.
We welcome the women’s team from Afghanistan, they arrived from Afghanistan at the border of Torkham, the players were in possession of a valid Afg passport, packing visa, they were received by Nouman Nadeem from PFF
– Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) 14 September 2021
It was unclear how many Afghan women players and their relatives could enter Pakistan.
However, the Pakistani newspaper The Dawn reported on Wednesday that the Afghan female footballers received first aid after the Taliban took over Kabul.
The new rulers in Afghanistan, who banned women from practicing all sports during their first rule in the 1990s, indicated that women and girls would be subject to restrictions on sports.
The group of junior players and their coaches and families tried to escape from the country last month, but a devastating bomb attack at the airport in Kabul stopped them, someone close to the team told AFP.
“I received a request for their rescue from another NGO in England, and I wrote to Prime Minister Imran Khan giving permission to land in Pakistan,” said Sardar Naveed Haider, an ambassador for NGO Football for Peace, a global development organization, said. in London.
In all, more than 75 people crossed the northern border on Tuesday before traveling south to the city of Lahore where they were greeted with wreaths.
“They would travel and stay in Lahore until they move on,” said Amir Dogar, vice president of PFF.
The girls, who played for the under-14, under-16 and under-18 teams, crossed the border wearing burqas, Haider said, before later turning into headscarves.
The footballers are finally expected to travel to the capital of Qatar, Doha, according to reports.
A senior Taliban official told Australian media that it was “not necessary” for women to play, according to an AFP report.
But on Tuesday, Bashir Ahmad Rustamzai, Afghanistan’s new director general for sports, said Taliban leaders at the highest level were still making decisions.
The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, is a former international cricketer and sports hero among the Pakistanis.
Tens of thousands of Afghan citizens have fled the country since the Taliban took power, for fear of retaliation or repression.
Last week, the Taliban announced an interim government for Afghanistan, along with veterans of their stubborn 1990s rule and the 20-year struggle against the United States-led coalition.
It seems unlikely that the move will win the international support that the new leaders urgently need for an economic and humanitarian crisis.