Afghanistan's women's national team: Risking their lives for football

Heroes & Humans of Football

27-06-2024 • 49 mins

The Afghan women’s national team doesn’t exist – not according to FIFA, anyway. The Taliban banned women's football when they took control of Afghanistan in 2021, forcing the team to flee the country for fear of their lives. But FIFA now refuses to recognise the team in exile, allowing the Taliban to continue their gender apartheid. Today, the team is fighting for FIFA recognition and their place in football. Living in exile and risking their lives to play football, the Afghan women's players are determined to return to the international game. Mehreen and Simon talk to Khalida Popal, the woman who defied the country's misogynistic norms to set up the national team. She became the first female captain, coach, and executive in Afghanistan's history. This is a story of a team’s courage and comradery in the face of death threats and sexual assaults. To support the Afghan women's team in their fight for recognition, you can sign this petition and follow Khalida Popal on LinkedIn: Timestamps: 00:00:02 - Introduction to the episode about Afghanistan's women's football team 00:03:47 - Khalida Popal joins to discuss founding the team 00:03:55 - Growing up in Afghanistan before the Taliban 00:05:09 - Early exposure to football in Afghanistan  00:06:09 - Returning to Afghanistan after 2001 and facing resistance to women playing football 00:08:56 - Setting up a girls' football team at school despite challenges 00:12:51 - Men discover and threaten the girls playing football 00:14:57 - Story of a teammate forced to stop playing by her family 00:18:06 - Establishing the Afghan women's national team 00:21:07 - Negotiating with the Afghan Football Federation for recognition 00:25:16 - Difficulties of managing the national team and facing abuse 00:30:10 - Fleeing Afghanistan due to death threats 00:33:56 - Evacuating players as Taliban returned to power in 2021 00:41:29 - Current players describe obstacles they faced playing in Afghanistan 00:43:01 - Players' experiences when Taliban took over in 2021 00:45:04 - Campaign for FIFA to recognise the exiled Afghan women's team 00:48:03 - FIFA's lack of response to requests for recognition Follow @heroesandhumans everywhere. Instagram TikTok Facebook X Visit our website for news & updates