FIFA tries to evacuate footballers from Afghanistan

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Islamic State suicide bombers killed scoresof civilians and at least 13 U.S. troops this week, striking the Kabul airport where thousands of people have been trying to flee in the chaos after the takeover.

Last week, Afghan national team football player Zaki Anwari died in a fall from a U.S. plane at Kabul airport as crowds of people seeking to flee Afghanistan thronged the airport since Taliban insurgents swept to power.

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“The FIFA President and Secretary General are following closely the situation and are working tirelessly with governments and relevant organisations to get those at risk out of Afghanistan,” a FIFA spokesperson said in a statement.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino
Photo: PHOTOSPORT

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“FIFA’s leadership is personally involved in negotiating the complex evacuation of footballers and other athletes,” it said. “This is an extremely challenging environment.”

Earlier this week, Australia evacuated more than 50 female Afghan athletes and their dependents after lobbying by prominent figures from the sporting world, the ABC reported.

FIFPRO, the worldwide association for professional soccer players, said it has also been heavily involved in efforts to get the athletes out and it appreciated the Australian government’s efforts.

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The former captain of the Afghan women’s football team, Khalida Popal, has urged players to delete social media, erase public identities and burn their kits for safety’s sake now that the country is again the rule of the Taliban, who imposed strict limits on women’s behaviour during their 1996-2001 rule.

Popal told Reuters in a video interview that the militants had killed, raped and stoned women in the past and female football players were afraid of what the future might hold.

-Reuters

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