Former Afghan soccer star urges female athletes to take drastic measures with Taliban back in power

Khalida Popal, a former captain of Afghanistan women’s soccer team and co – founder of the Afghan Women’s soccer team, urged players to take drastic measures now that the Taliban are back in power.

Popal told Reuters Wednesday that female players should hide their identities and even burn their uniforms.

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“Today I call them and tell them, take their names down, remove their identities, take their photos down for their safety. I myself tell them to burn down or get rid of your national team uniform,” she said.

“And it’s painful for me, for a person as an activist who stood up and did everything to achieve and earn that identity as a women’s national team player. To earn that badge on the chest, to have the right to play and represent our country, how much we were proud. “

Khalida Popal, the former captain of Afghanistan’s women’s national football team, speaks in an interview from Copenhagen, Denmark, 18 August 2021. (REUTERS / Reuters TV)

According to Reuters, the Taliban stopped women from working and barred girls from schools under its rule in 1996-2001. Those who broke the Taliban’s strict rules had serious consequences.

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Popal suggested female football players could be targeted because the sport had given women the opportunity to stand up for their rights as individuals.

“They are so scared. They are worried, they are scared, not only the players but also the activists … they have no one to go to, to seek protection, to ask for help if they are in danger,” he said. Popal Reuters. “They are afraid that there will be a knock on the door at any time.

“What we see is a country collapsing. All the pride, happiness of being there to empower the women and men of the country is as if it was just wasted.”

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Afghanistan’s women’s soccer team was formed in 2007, well after the Taliban were forced out.

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