Leeds United offer to take Afghan girls’ squad amid Taliban escape attempt


The Whites, alongside the charity Football for Peace and the company ROKiT, have written to PM Boris Johnson as they seek refugee visas

Leeds United are hoping to offer sanctuary to the Afghan girls’ football squad as part of a humanitarian effort aimed at helping the latter avoid persecution by the Taliban back home.

The Whites, alongside the charity Football for Peace and the global venture firm ROKiT, have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson in an attempt to secure visas for their refugee effort.

The 32-player squad, complete with coaches and families, are currently in Pakistan on a short-term stay, but would face serious life restrictions in their home country should they return.

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What’s been said?

Football for Peace founder Kashif Siddiqi, a former Pakistan international, stated: “The race is on to find them a permanent safe haven.”

Leeds chairman Andrea Radrizzani added his support, stating that the club were ready and waiting to “give the girls a prosperous and peaceful future”.

The Whites say that every player in the 112-strong group has been offered a place on their youth development teams.

Afghan girls’ football squad

What is the context?

The livelihoods of women and girls in Afghanistan have been severely disrupted since the return of the Taliban to power over the past few months.

The movement, who previously controlled the country between 1996 and 2001 prior to the War in Afghanistan, ended a two-decade exodus following the withdrawal of foreign forces.

Their strict practice of a form of Sharia law has placed restrictions upon female freedoms across the country, denying many education and leaving professional livelihoods at a minimum.

The bigger picture

Leeds’ humanitarian efforts come as the club looks to battle towards a first top-flight win of the season following a dismal start to the new Premier League campaign.

Amid a maiden England cap for Patrick Bamford and success in the Carabao Cup, where they have reached the last-16, Marcelo Bielsa’s side have misfired elsewhere both home and away.

They will hope to earn their first scalp of the new term when they host David Moyes’ in-form West Ham at Elland Road on Saturday.

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