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Leeds United asked visas for Afghan female football team, now the visas are granted

Players from the Afghan girls’ football team are reported to have received a visa to come to the UK. According to The Sun, about 111 players, coaches and family members of the team are given the green light for a safe and permanent home away from the Taliban.

However, female Afghan players have been granted asylum from Portugal and it is unclear which country they will end up in in the long term.

The group of girls lived on temporary visas in Pakistan since they fled their home country after the takeover-and the threat of being sent back as soon as their asylum period was over. The girls were recently surprised by the captain of the women’s team, Farkhunda Muhtaj, who lives in Canada and helped get them to Lisbon, where she then trained with them for months during their first session.

Campaigners have called for the younger group to be given a permanent refuge in the UK, fearing that they would be persecuted by the new Afghan government and stop playing football.

Leeds United was one of a number of organizations that urged the government to grant asylum to the girls.

Under the previous Taliban regime in Afghanistan, women faced severe repression and were banned from education and sports.

The UK left a number of people behind during a hasty evacuation from Kabul and was criticized for not bringing in enough people and abandoning some who helped during the British military mission in the country.

Kashif Siddiqi, co-founder of the charity Football for Peace that led the campaign to help the girls, thanked British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for”giving these players a future”. He said in a statement: “We are still waiting to hear the confirmation through official channels, but if it is confirmed, it means 111 Afghan girls, family and coaches have just changed their lives forever by Britain. Every approved visa means a better life, the right to education and the freedom to play football.

He continued: ‘without Britain, they were facing a return to the nightmare that Afghanistan is; this decision gives them a future to possibly play for Leeds United and other clubs. We are also extremely grateful to Pakistan for giving them a temporary safe haven while the UK was considering their case.’

Mary Johnson

Mary Johnson is a native of Leeds, journalist and PhD candidate at the University of Glasgow. She is mainly interested in foreign affairs, geopolitics and investigative journalism.

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