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Afghanistan

Afghan women soccer players enter Pakistan


Story by The Associated Press

Story   Source

Published on September 16, 2021 11:50 PM
 
 
SLAMABAD - Members of Afghanistan's women soccer team and their families arrived in Pakistan after fleeing their country in the wake of the Taliban's takeover, local media said Wednesday.

It was unclear how many Afghan women players and their family members were allowed to enter in Pakistan.

According to Pakistan's information minister Fawad Chaudhry, the Afghan women soccer players entered in Pakistan though the northwestern Torkham border crossing holding valid travel documents.

"We welcome Afghanistan women football team," Chaudhry tweeted, providing no further details.

However, Pakistan's English-langue The DAWN newspaper Wednesday reported that the Afghan female footballers were issued emergency humanitarian visas following the Taliban takeover of Kabul. The Taliban reportedly don't want women to participate in sports.

The Taliban has not commented, but an official confirmed that under the government's interpretation of Islam, women are not allowed to play any sports where they could potentially be exposed. The official was not authorized to speak with media before any official announcement by the government.

Last week, the Taliban announced an all-male interim government for Afghanistan stacked with veterans of their hard-line rule from the 1990s and the 20-year battle against the U.S.-led coalition. The move seems unlikely to win the international support the new leaders desperately need to avoid...

BACKGROUND

Afghanistan women's national football team

The Afghanistan women's national football team was the women's national team of Afghanistan and was controlled by the Afghanistan Football Federation until the fall of Kabul in 2021. They played the majority of their home games at the Ghazi National Olympic Stadium in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. Due to the conditions in Afghanistan and the controversy surrounding the female Muslim football teams, it has been difficult for the AFF to obtain long-term sponsorship for the team. In May 2010, Danish sports brand Hummel International signed up the male, female and youth teams of Afghanistan.

In December 2010, the team played its first official international game, against Nepal, during the South Asian Football Federation Women's Championships in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. On 16 February 2012 they completed a 2–0 win against Qatar, their first official international victory. On 10 June 2014 Afghanistan Football Federation moved from South Asian Football Federation to Central Asian Football Federation.

Early history

The team was formed in 2007 by the Afghanistan National Olympic Committee with players taken from selected school girls in Kabul. That year, the team played for the first time against the International Security Assistance Force women's side, with Afghanistan winning 5–0. In 2008, the team traveled to Pakistan to participate in the second national tournament of Pakistan. There they won their group stage and semi-final games but lost to Baluchistan in the final.

In an attempt to improve the quality of women's football, the team was sent to Germany in 2008 to hold a preparation camp. Later in the year, the Afghan team traveled to Jordan to participate in the Islamic Countries Women's Football Tournament. The results this time were less favourable as they faced established and more experienced teams for the first time. Afghanistan lost all of its games by at least 17 goals.

In February 2009, the team went to Jordan again, but this time for a training camp. The Netherlands' Women's Football Federation has shown interest in helping the team and has invited them for a training camp in Netherlands.

2010 SAFF Women's Championship

The 2010 SAFF Women's Championship in Bangladesh marked the first appearance of Afghanistan in a major international tournament. In it, they played their first official game, against Nepal, where they were defeated by an overwhelming 0-13 scoreline. They then faced their neighboring rivals, Pakistan, and lost by the score of 0–3. In their last game, they faced Maldives in a match which ended with the equal score of 2–2. Afghanistan was subsequently eliminated from the tournament with only one point.

2012 SAFF Women's Championship

The 2012 SAFF Women's Championship in Sri Lanka was the second time that Afghanistan disputed an international tournament. They faced Maldives in their first game and drew 1–1. Diba Naweed scored the team's only goal in that match. The following game with Pakistan marked Afghanistan's second win, outscoring their opponents with an abundant 4–0 goal difference. Hailai Arghandiwal and Marjan Haydaree scored one goal each, while Shabnam Rohin scored two goals in the match. The last group phase game was against Nepal, and ended in a heavy defeat of 1–7. The only goal was scored by Marjan Haydaree. Afghanistan advanced to the Semi-Finals after placing second in the group. The Semi-Final match was with India, and ended with a crushing 0–11 defeat. Thus, Afghanistan finished the tournament as one of the Semi-Final losers.

2014 SAFF Women's Championship

The 2014 SAFF Women's Championship in Pakistan was the third time that Afghanistan disputed an international tournament. Their first game ended with a 1–6 defeat against Bangladesh. The goal was scored by Marjan Haydaree. They lost the second match 0–1 against Maldives. Their third and last encounter ended in a crushing 0–12 defeat against India. Afghanistan were eliminated from the tournament with 0 points. This marked Afghanistan's least successful participation in the SAFF Women's Championship.

2016 efforts

2016 marked a big year for the Afghanistan Women's National Team as they received support from the Afghanistan Football Federation and hired a new coaching staff consisting of head coach Kelly Lindsey, assistant coach Haley Carter, and program director Khalida Popal. The team also hired fitness coach John De Witt, PhD and team physio Joelle Muro, DPT.

Along with these hires, the team prepared for the 2016 SAFF Women's Championship held in India.

The team also had a partnership with Diehard Scarves who produced official Afghanistan Women's National Team Supporter Scarves. A portion of the proceeds from these sales went to the team in their fundraising efforts in preparation for the 2016 SAFF Women's Championship. During the tournament the team lost to India and Bangladesh .

The team won Tournament AFSO 2016.

2018 CAFA Women's Championship and abuse allegations The first CAFA tournament for the women's team resulted in four matches with defeats. They earned their biggest defeat, 20–0 to Uzbekistan, who won the first tournament of the women's championship in Central Asia.

In November 2018, male staff of the Afghanistan Football Federation were accused of sexual and physical abuse of Afghanistan women's players. The allegations included the Federation's president, Keramuudin Karim.

2021

Exodus In August 2021, following the takeover of the country by the Taliban, former team captain Khalida Popal who was based in Denmark, urged players to delete their social media accounts, erase public identities and burn their kits for safety's sake as they are again under Taliban rule. On 25 August, the Australian government announced they had evacuated 75 Afghan women athletes including football players. Fifpro and Popal worked with authorities in six countries, including Australia, the US, and the UK, to get athletes and their families airlifted out of Afghanistan. Fifpro general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann described the evacuations as 'an incredibly complex process'.

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