Afghanistan girls’ football development squad have been reportedly granted visas to come to the UK.
Home Secretary Priti Patel revealed that a group of players, coaches and family members’ 111 visa applications to be approved.
The squad have been in Pakistan on temporary visas since fleeing Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover of the country, but face being sent back once their asylum period ran out.
A source close to Ms Patel reportedly told The Sun: ‘At the heart of Priti’s new Afghan resettlement scheme is the protection of women and girls.’
The source added the team ‘will be able to make the UK their home, free from fear and persecution’.
Meanwhile, the Australian government evacuated the Afghan national female football team and the girls team were recently given asylum in Portugal.
Kashif Siddiqi, co-founder of charity Football for Peace, which led the campaign to bring the squad to the UK, thanked Ms Patel and Prime Minister Boris Johnson for ‘giving these players a future’.
He said in a statement: ‘We’re still waiting to hear through official channels but if confirmed it means that 111 Afghan girls, family and coaches have just had their lives changed forever Britain.
‘Every single visa approved is a life enhanced, the right to education protected and the freedom to play football preserved.
‘Thank you to Boris Johnson and Priti Patel for listening to us and for giving these players a future in the home of football. Without Britain they faced a return to the nightmare that is Afghanistan; this decision gives them futures potentially playing for Leeds United and other clubs.’
It comes after the Taliban announced it would effectively ban Afghan women from playing sport because ‘their face and body will not be covered.’
The country’s new deputy culture minister, Ahmadullah Wasiq, confirmed the militant group’s Sharia law interpretation when asked if they would allow women to play cricket.
‘I don’t think women will be allowed to play cricket because it is not necessary that women should play cricket,’ Wasiq told Australian broadcaster SBS.
‘In cricket, they might face a situation where their face and body will not be covered. Islam does not allow women to be seen like this.
‘It is the media era, and there will be photos and videos, and then people watch it.
‘Islam and the Islamic Emirate [Afghanistan] do not allow women to play cricket or play the kind of sports where they get exposed.’