A number of women who were not top-tier football players in Afghanistan, as it was claimed, were evacuated to England along with genuine players, reported BBC. The high-profile evacuation took place in November 2021 from Pakistan to England. Women footballers were seen to be at risk after Taliban’s rise to power and their strict interpretation of Islam prompting them to oppose women’s participation in sports.

In November 2021, Thirty-five women and their family members (130 people in all) were flown to England. They were granted UK visas by the country’s Home Office.

A BBC report now says that though names and other details of the evacuees were genuine, it was found that their claims of being part of national or regional football teams in Afghanistan were, in some cases, false. After speaking to former Afghan players, coaches and others related to the sport, it was found that 13 of those evacuated were identified as not being part of the teams that were listed.

“I have seen people in the list who have not even worn a football strip in Herat,” said Najibullah Nowroozi, former coach of Herat Youth Team. Herat is a province in Afghanistan.

Some genuine players have been left back in Afghanistan, says the report.

“The Taliban have banned sports for women and girls… we are left behind in Afghanistan with no future. It just makes me feel very neglected and very sad because we are the real players and not some of those that got evacuated,” BBC quotes one of such individuals who, it said wished to remain anonymous.

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