FIFA evacuates 100 refugees from Kabul, including footballers

At least 20 national footballers are among the 100 refugees evacuated from Afghanistan by FIFA, The independent understand.

The group of mostly women and girls left Kabul on Thursday on a flight to Doha.

FIFA was aided in the bailout by the Qatari government, which worked closely with them to secure the escape.

A source close to the operation said: “The group has now landed in Doha and is happy to be safe.

“It’s been a long negotiation since August to get the group out.”

It is understood that the football governing body will continue to try to ensure safe passage for more players and their families from Afghanistan, which fell under Taliban control in August.

It is not yet clear where the group, which includes players, support staff, coaches and others involved in promoting women’s football in Afghanistan, will go from Doha.

They were issued with passports and official papers before leaving Kabul.

Some 14,000 people, including many British citizens, were airlifted from Kabul in August as part of Operation Pitting after the Afghan government fled advancing Taliban fighters, leaving the country under the control of religious activists extremists.

But thousands more have been left behind, and fears have been expressed for the future of women in particular.

Last week, former British soldier Ben Slater, who had been detained in Afghanistan, was released and airlifted to Qatar with the return of senior British diplomats. He was arrested at the Pakistani border while trying to evacuate 50 employees of the company he ran, as well as their families.

The Qatari government is believed to have helped facilitate the release of Mr Slater, a former member of the Royal Military Police and CEO of an Afghanistan-based consulting firm, Nomads Concept Group, after his arrest last month.

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