The Australian Government has evacuated a “large number” of women footballers and athletes from Afghanistan.
With the country in crisis following the takeover by the Taliban, the young women have been removed from danger, FIFPRO, the worldwide representative organisation for professional footballers, confirmed.
The governing body said in a statement: “We are grateful to the Australian Government for evacuating a large number of women footballers and athletes from Afghanistan.
“These young women, both as athletes and activists, have been in a position of danger and on behalf of their peers around the world we thank the international community for coming to their aid.
“We would like to pay tribute to the tireless, round-the-clock work of many people including Khalida Popal, Kelly Lindsey, Nikki Dryden, Alison Battison, Haley Carter and Craig Foster in helping them to secure safe passage out of Afghanistan.
“There remains much work to do to support and settle these young women and we urge the international community to make sure that they receive all the help they need.
“There are also many athletes still at risk in Afghanistan and every effort should be made to offer them support.”
Sleepless nights, being on the call all the time answering questions. Handling media, motiving players to keep fighting & not give up even there were gunfires, they were beaten. Was tough. The 75 players and some family members are out of Afghanistan. Teamwork. Work continues. pic.twitter.com/wv5WUF10Wd
— Khalida Popal (@khalida_popal) August 24, 2021
Popal, former Afghanistan national team captain, said: “The last few days have been extremely stressful but today we have achieved an important victory.
“The women footballers have been brave and strong in a moment of crisis and we hope they will have a better life outside Afghanistan.
“But there is still much more work to do. Women’s football is a family and we must make sure everyone is safe.”
FIFPRO general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann said: “We are relieved that this group of footballers and athletes have been able to leave Afghanistan today.
“It has been an incredibly complex process for everyone involved to secure their evacuation. Our hearts go out to all the others who remain stranded in the country against their will.”
Additional reporting by PA.