Leeds United take on the Taliban by offering help to Afghan girls’ football squad trying to escape Afghanistan’s brutal new government
- Some 32 players offered places on Leeds United’s youth development teams
- They are in Pakistan with their families on 30-day visas, hoping to reach the UK
- Leeds boss Andrea Radrizzani said club could ‘give the girls a prosperous future’
Dozens of female Afghan football players are pleading for safe passage to Britain after being offered the chance to train with Leeds United.
Some 32 players and their families and coaches are currently in Pakistan on 30-day visas, but will soon be forced to return to their home country, which has been overtaken by the archaic Taliban.
But they have been offered a sliver of hope after Leeds United offered to place all the girls on its youth development teams.
Chairman Andrea Radrizzani said his club stood ready to ‘give the girls a prosperous and peaceful future’.
Football For Peace is now fighting to get the 112-strong group to the UK so they can avoid having to suffer life under the Taliban – which has effectively forbidden women from playing sport.
The charity has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ask for visas for all the young women and their families and coaches.
Co-founder of the charity Kashif Siddiqi, a Pakistani international, said: ‘The race is on to find them a permanent safe haven.’
Some 32 Afghan players and their families and coaches (pictured) are currently in Pakistan on 30-day visas, but will soon be forced to return to their home country, which has been overtaken by the Taliban
Football For Peace is fighting to get the 112-strong group to the UK so they do not have to face life under the militant group – which has forbidden women from having jobs while insisting they have male escorts when leaving their homes
UK firm ROKiT has offered to meet many of the costs while Downing Street sources are reportedly looking into the idea.
It comes after the Taliban announced earlier this month that it would effectively ban Afghan women from playing sport because ‘their face and body will not be covered.’
The country’s newly picked deputy culture minister, Ahmadullah Wasiq, confirmed the militant group’s Sharia law interpretation when asked if they will allow women to play cricket.
‘I don’t think women will be allowed to play cricket because it is not necessary that women should play cricket,’ Wasiq told Australian broadcaster SBS.
‘In cricket, they might face a situation where their face and body will not be covered. Islam does not allow women to be seen like this.
Leeds chairman Andrea Radrizzani said his club stood ready to ‘give the girls a prosperous and peaceful future’
‘It is the media era, and there will be photos and videos, and then people watch it.
‘Islam and the Islamic Emirate [Afghanistan] do not allow women to play cricket or play the kind of sports where they get exposed.’
It comes as the barbaric reality of life under the Taliban was made abundantly clear on Saturday when horrifying images on social media showed four alleged kidnappers hanging from cranes in Herat, western Afghanistan.
One of the images showed an accused kidnapper’s dead body hanged from a crane, with a sign attached to him, while hoards of people watched on from below and nearby buildings.
The sign on his chest read: ‘Abductors will be punished like this.’
Herat province’s deputy governor Mawlawi Shir Ahmad Muhajir said the men’s corpses were displayed in various public areas on the same day as the killings to teach a ‘lesson’ that kidnapping will not be tolerated.
The display is the most high-profile public punishment since the Taliban swept to power last month, and is a sign the Islamist hardliners will adopt fearsome measures similar to their previous rule from 1996 to 2001.