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Afghanistan: Ex-football star says the women and girls left behind are 'so afraid' of Taliban rule

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By Mahboobeh Khansari  & Luke Hurst
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Madina Azizi has fled Afghanistan where she fears for the future of women and girls
Madina Azizi has fled Afghanistan where she fears for the future of women and girls   -   Copyright  Maryam-Majd
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Madina Azizi is a football coach and former star of Afghanistan's female football team, something that simply wouldn't have been possible under the Taliban's previous rule of the country, which came to an end in 2001.

She had already escaped to Europe before Afghanistan was plunged into crisis earlier this month, fearing a Taliban return.

Over the past fortnight, Azizi has been behind efforts to get people out of the country. She told Euronews that the women and girls she has been speaking to still inside Afghanistan are very pessimistic.

“When I call for them, they speak in a slow whisper, a sense of despair,” she said. “They’re totally disappointed and they are so afraid of the situation that they have in Afghanistan.”

She says with the return of the Taliban, she is sure “women won’t have any choice and any rights”.

Along with other former female footballers, Azizi has been writing to organisations, such as FIFA, to try and get more girls out of the country, as the deadline imposed by the Taliban for evacuations from Kabul’s international airport approaches.

With her help, as of this week, at least 33 people, players, coaches, referees, and officials affiliated with women’s football, have been evacuated.

“I myself and so many others like Shamila Kohestani, she is our first captain in the national team, she and I and other friends, we wrote a letter to FIFA to help the national players, coaches, referees and other employees that are working with the AFF (Afghanistan Football Federation),” she says.

“Right now most of the organisations are helping the women, but when the Taliban come, I think everything’s going to stop.”

She added that she could not convince some families to get their daughters out of the country, citing several recent threats to female athletes in the country.