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Soccer players leave Afghanistan on evacuation flight

Soccer players leave Afghanistan on evacuation flight

Players of the Afghanistan women’s national soccer team scored a “major victory” on Tuesday as they entered a group of more than 75 people evacuated on a flight from Kabul.

The international footballers union FIFPRO thanked the Australian government for making it possible for the players, team members and family members to leave, while work continues to help more people leave the country.

“These young women, both as athletes and activists, have been in a dangerous position and on behalf of their colleagues around the world we thank the international community for coming to their aid,” the union said in a statement.

The Afghan team was created in 2007 in a country where women playing sport was seen as a political act of defiance against the Taliban.

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Players were advised this month to delete their posts and photos with the team on social media to avoid retaliation after the fall of the government backed by the United States and the international community.

“The last few days have been very stressful, but today we achieved an important victory,” said former team captain Khalida Popal.

Popal is part of the FIFPRO team of lawyers and advisers who have worked with authorities in six countries, including Australia, the United States and Great Britain, to get athletes and their families on lists and evacuation flights to safe places.

“Women footballers have been brave and strong in a time of crisis and we hope they have a better life outside of Afghanistan,” added Popal.

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According to FIFPRO Secretary General Jonas Baer-Hoffmann, the evacuations have been “an incredibly complex process.”

“Our hearts go out to everyone else who remains stranded in the country against their will,” he said. AP (HN)

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