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A 3rd of the Afghan females footballers evacuated to Britain ‘hadn’t even performed the sport’ 


A range of Afghanistan women’s soccer workforce gamers evacuated to United kingdom soon after the Taliban took manage of the country ‘hadn’t even played the sport’, an investigation has claimed.

Some 35 users of the women’s countrywide workforce were flown to security in the United kingdom along with their families – 130 people today in complete – from Pakistan in November 2021.

The females – aged involving 13 and 19 at the time – have been granted visas by the Uk Property Business office as they had been deemed to be at increased risk from the Taliban as they performed a sport considered un-Islamic by the insurgent team.

But an investigation thinks close to a 3rd of the 35 females granted asylum experienced never ever basically played for the crew.

Talking to previous gamers, coaches, and officers for the Afghan women’s team, the investigation identified 13 persons who it claimed had been not element of the workforce.

Afghan female football players from Afghan team celebrate with the trophy after their women's football tournament final match in December 2013

Afghan woman football gamers from Afghan team rejoice with the trophy just after their women’s football tournament remaining match in December 2013

Players of Afghanistan national women football team attend to a training session at Odivelas, outskirts of Lisbon, September 2021

Players of Afghanistan national women football staff go to to a teaching session at Odivelas, outskirts of Lisbon, September 2021

Conducting its investigation, the BBC’s Newsnight said it has been in a position to obtain the total list of the women’s footballers who ended up transported to the Uk and granted asylum.

Validating the listing, they claimed the names that ended up supplied to the Home Office environment have been genuine. But pinpointing them as soccer gamers for either the nationwide group or community golf equipment was false. 

Najibullah Nowroozi, coach of the Herat Youth Group – exactly where most of the gamers claimed to be registered – said a selection of players on the listing had hardly ever performed soccer.

He advised Newsnight’s investigation: ‘I have noticed individuals in the record who have not even worn a football strip in Herat.’

The phony promises by some of the ladies have sparked fury for a lot of again household in Afghanistan.

Some of the women who did engage in for the nationwide crew ended up not in a position to make their way to the Uk and are now dwelling in Afghanistan underneath Taliban rule.

Just one anonymous player however in the region told Newsnight: ‘The Taliban have banned sports for ladies and ladies.

‘We are left driving in Afghanistan with no foreseeable future. It just makes me sense really neglected and very unfortunate due to the fact we are the true players and not some of people that bought evacuated.’

Sabriah Nawrouzi, the previous captain of the Herat Youth Workforce, instructed the investigation she satisfied some of the gals who claimed to be element of the group for the incredibly initially time at a resort as they awaited a flight to the United kingdom.

Afghan footballers take part in a friendly football match against Qatar women's national team at the Khalifa International Stadium in November 2021

Afghan footballers just take component in a pleasant soccer match versus Qatar women’s countrywide workforce at the Khalifa Global Stadium in November 2021

Khalida Popal, former captain of the Afghan women's national football team, speaks during the FIFA Annual Conference for Equality & Inclusion in March 2017

Khalida Popal, former captain of the Afghan women’s countrywide soccer staff, speaks all through the FIFA Yearly Meeting for Equality & Inclusion in March 2017

A charity employee who served organise the flight to the British isles claimed the Dwelling Office unsuccessful to test the identification of the women. She mentioned they relied on the names that 1 player Khalida Popal presented them.

The charity employee, Siu Anne Gill from the Rokit Foundation, explained to Newsnight that Ms Popal experienced been individually like additional and far more names and when they questioned her if some of the females were surely footballers, she confirmed they had been.

Ms Popal denied any accusation that she knowingly involved gals who ended up not footballers. She instructed Newsnight in a statement: ‘I categorically deny the allegations directed at me. I have frequently offered extensive proof and explanations about why any recommendation that I experienced any official purpose in verification and/or knowingly misled everyone about the identities of all those evacuated is completely wrong.’

A spokesperson for the House Business informed Newsnight: ‘We labored with a selection of organisations who determined and referred the group to us, undertaking protection checks as portion of the process.

‘Should there be proof that the information and facts furnished was incorrect, the Property Business will look into.’ 

The Mail On Sunday’s executed its have investigation in December 2021 that uncovered users of the countrywide group squad have been left at the rear of to make way for good friends of senior players.

The investigation found that significantly of the criticism has been levelled at Ms Popal.

At the time, Arezo Rahimi, head of women’s soccer at the Afghan Soccer Association, mentioned: ‘The vast majority of the individuals on Ms Popal’s list are not players and their households at all. Most gamers from the progress workforce are however trapped in Afghanistan – they are dwelling in concern and have no hope of getting out.’ 

Ms Popal also denied any wrongdoing in December 2021 and stated her accusers ended up jealous simply because they were unable to evacuate their individual family members.

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