Afghanistan footballers urge FIFA to help teammates amid Taliban takeover

Afghanistan Women's Football

The captain of the Afghanistan women’s football team has called on FIFA to save her teammates after the country’s capital city of Kabul fell to the Taliban earlier this week.

The Islamic extremist group has regained control over large parts of the country, having previously held power between 1996 and 2001 before US intervention.

Previously, the Taliban imposed its own strict version of Sharia law, which severely restricts the freedom of women and has put their safety in jeopardy.

Under the last regime, Afghan women were not allowed to work, study or be treated by male doctors, unless accompanied by a male. Those who broke these laws faced imprisonment, flogging and even execution.

With the country in a perilous situation, many members of the Afghan women’s football team are fearing for their lives.

Mobarez, who is living in the United States at present, posted on Twitter urging football’s governing body to intervene and save her teammates.

The 25-year-old recounts a conversation she has had with a fellow player: “Are you ok,” Mobarez asks –– to which the response is “No, I am not – I know they will come for me soon, can you help me?”

Mobarez implored FIFA to “act and save” her teammates, describing them as her “sisters.”

The Afghanistan women’s team was formed in 2007 after the Taliban was last ousted from power. The side played their first competitive game three years later and registered their first win against Qatar in 2012.

While this helped give women more responsibility and standing in Afghan society, Mobarez has revealed the Afghan Football Federation has given up on the team, hence her plea for help.

“They are hidden in the homes of family or friends, without revealing their identity,” she told the Tribuna Expresso. ”Even the Afghan Football Federation members and staff simply disappeared, they were supposed to protect them and there is no one there.

“It looks like the people who had the money left and now we have all these helpless women left to fend for themselves.”

Former Afghanistan women’s captain Khalida Popal has also spoken out this week –– urging the women’s players to delete their social accounts and dispose of their kits to protect their identities.

“I have been encouraging [the players] to take down social media channels, take down photos, escape and hide themselves,” she told the Associated Press.

“That breaks my heart because of all these years we have worked to raise the visibility of women and now I’m telling my women in Afghanistan to shut up and disappear. Their lives are in danger.”

Mobarez also stressed she’d love to be able to do more but that it’s difficult with the current circumstances.

“I would love to be able to help them more, but the situation is so tense that, right now, if they leave the house, they will be killed.

“For now, the best thing to do is wait for the situation to calm down. There is a chance that the Taliban will knock on their door and tomorrow they will no longer be with us.”

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