Afghan junior women’s football team plea for asylum in UK

Afghan women’s junior football team plea for asylum in UK
2 min read
02 October, 2021
The football team and their families have been financially supported by the ROKiT Foundation, but now face deportation from to Afghanistan as their emergency visas expire on 12 October.
The Afghan junior women's football team youngest player is 12 years old [Getty]

Afghanistan’s junior women’s football team has urged the United Kingdom to grant them asylum as they face the prospect having to return home from Pakistan as their visas come to an end. 

The 35 young women aged 12-19, have been staying in a hotel in Lahore since fleeing from the Taliban, along with their football coaches and family members totalling 129 people. 

The football team and their families have been financially supported by the ROKiT Foundation, but now face deportation to Afghanistan as their emergency visas expire on 12 October. 

“The only thing all of us know is that we don’t want to go back to Afghanistan again. If you can accept us we would be really happy that we can live in the UK and have the UK as a host country for us,” one of the girls, told Sky News

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The girls have since been offered support from Leeds United chair Andrea Radrizzani, who has promised them a new life.  UK Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat has also pledged his support.

“I’ve had … a series of conversations with various members of the Cabinet about these girls and this group and I know that there’s a lot of support. What we need to do now is just get it over the line, make sure that these individuals are recognised as part of the government’s commitment,” Tugendhat said. 

The chief executive of the ROKiT Foundation, Siu-Anne Marie Gill, has stressed that the need to ensure the girls and their families' safety is heightened by how publicised their arrival in Pakistan was:

“There were photos of their faces on TV, they will be in even more danger now. They cannot go back to Afghanistan, we have got to make this happen," she said.

Campaigners have also written to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ask that the football team be granted asylum under the Afghan citizens’ resettlement scheme (ACRS).