Former Afghan female captain tells player to burn kit and delete photos


A former captain of the Afghan women’s soccer team has urged players to remove social media for safety, erase public identities and burn kits now that the country is again under Taliban control.

Copenhagen-based Harida Popal told Reuters in a video interview Wednesday that militants have killed, raped and stoned women in the past, and female soccer players are afraid of the future. Said.

The co-founder of the Afghan Women’s Soccer League told young women that he always used his voice to “stand strong, bold and visible,” but now there is another message.

“Today I call them and tell them to delete their names, delete their identities, and delete their photos for their safety. Even I tell them you I’m telling you to burn or remove the uniforms of the national team, “she said.

“And it’s a pain for me, for someone as an activist who stood up and did everything possible to achieve and gain an identity as a female national team player.

“How proud were we to get that badge on our chest, to have the right to play and represent our country?”

The Taliban blocked women from working during the period of Islamic law-guided rule from 1996 to 2001. Girls were not allowed to go to school and women had to wear burqas to go out, only when accompanied by male relatives.

Those who broke the rules could suffer humiliation and public beatings by the Taliban religious police.

The Taliban said it would respect women’s rights within the framework of Islamic law.

According to Popal, football has allowed women to strongly support their rights and resist those who try to silence them.

“They are very afraid. They are worried, they are scared, not only players but also activists … If they are at risk, help those who go and those who seek protection. No one wants it, “she said of the situation.

“They are worried that the door will always be knocked.”

“What we see is the collapse of the country,” she added. “All the pride and happiness of being there to empower women and men in the country seems to have just been wasted.”

A FIFA spokesperson said football groups around the world “shared concerns and empathy with everyone affected by the changing circumstances.”

“We are in contact with the Afghanistan Football Federation and other stakeholders and will continue to monitor the situation in the region and provide support over the coming weeks and months.”

Alan Baldwin