Players from the Afghan national women’s football team were among a group of more than 75 people evacuated on a flight from Kabul.
With the country in crisis following the takeover of power by the Taliban, young women have come out of danger, confirmed FIFPRO, the world organization representing professional footballers.
The governing body said in a statement: “We are grateful to the Australian government for evacuating a large number of footballers and athletes from Afghanistan.
“These young women, both as athletes and activists, have been in a position of danger and on behalf of their peers around the world, we thank the international community for coming to their aid.”
The Afghan football team was created in 2007 in a country where women’s sports were seen as a political act of defiance of the Taliban.
Players were asked this month to remove social media posts and photos of themselves with the team to avoid retaliation since the fall of the US-backed Afghan government.
Thanks to the work of many people and our friends in Australia, after 72 hours of all day and night operations, more than 75 Afghan athletes, officials and families from the WNT have finally arrived. A short break to appreciate all those who made this possible … pic.twitter.com/ybiMVL2c8L
– Haley Carter (She / She) (@H_C_Carter) August 24, 2021
“The last few days have been extremely stressful, but today we have achieved an important victory,” said former team captain Khalida Popal.
Popal is part of a team of Fifpro lawyers and advisers who have worked with authorities in six countries, including Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, to bring athletes and their families to lists of evacuation and flights to safety.
“The footballers have been courageous and strong in a time of crisis and we hope they will have a better life outside of Afghanistan,” she said.
“But there is still a lot of work to be done. Women’s football is a family and we have to make sure everyone is safe.”
FIFPRO General Secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann said the evacuations had been “an incredibly complex process”.
“We are relieved that this group of footballers and athletes has been able to leave Afghanistan,” Baer-Hoffmann said.
“It has been an incredibly complex process for everyone involved in securing their evacuation. Our hearts go out to all those who remain stranded in the country against their will.”