After the Taliban’s return to power, these athletes support the Afghan people – Ouest-France evening edition

The Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan has sparked many reactions, especially in the world of sport. Several Afghans took the floor to give their support to the people or to express their fear for the future.

The Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan raises many concerns for the country’s future, whether for women’s rights or because of the terrorist threat.

The sporting world is no exception to the rule. Faced with the situation in Afghanistan, several sports players took the floor to give their support to the Afghan people.

« To all the strong girls in my country … may God protect you »

This is particularly the case of the Afghan flag bearer at the Tokyo Olympics this summer, Kimia Yousofi. In a message posted on the social network Instagram, the one who ran the 100m during the event gave her support to her compatriots: “My dear homeland… As they left you alone. Dear inhabitants, to all the strong girls of my country … may God protect you. « 

Read also: Cycling. Afghan refugee, the Olympics will be used to defend the practice of women in the world

Yousofi also worried about the future of sport in Afghanistan. She legitimately wondered if she would not be the last female flag bearer in the country, the Taliban being opposed to the practice of sport by women: “I don’t know if this was the last time I wore this flag at the Games. I don’t even know if I could tie this flag to my forehead, and compete in a race to represent you. I will forever be the alchemy of Afghanistan. « 

Fears relayed by the other Afghan flag bearer in Tokyo, taekwondoist Farzad Mansouri. Also on Instagram, he posted a message calling for  » pray for [s] we country ”.

Screenshot of Farzad Mansouri’s Story. (Screen capture: Instagram / @farzad_. Mansouri)

Fears for Afghan women’s football

Khalida Popal, the soccer player who helped launch the Afghan women’s team in 2007, shared her fears with the Associated Press news agency. A refugee in Denmark, she explained that she asked the Afghan players to leave the country: “I encourage them to shut down their social networks, remove the photos, flee and go into hiding. « 

Popal now has the  » Broken Heart «  Seeing that  » all these years «  working for « Make women visible » Were going to be reduced to nothing. “Most of the players have left their homes to go to relatives and hide because their neighbors know they are players. They are scared. The Taliban are everywhere. They walk around creating fear. « 

In addition to the female players, the Afghan football officials who encouraged female participation also fear for their lives.

This fear of the Afghan sports world is also echoed in Europe. This Tuesday August 17, the Spanish daily Marca makes its front page by asking the question: “What will become of them? « , Referring to Afghan sportswomen.

The newspaper takes the example of Nilofar Bayat, captain of the Afghan selection of wheelchair basketball. The athlete has already alerted the Spanish Basketball Federation:“I can’t leave and I know I’m not safe here. The Taliban will kill me, they don’t like women like me ”, she told online media Vice World News.

What future for Afghan cricket?

Finally, the question of the future of cricket has often been raised. Very popular in Afghanistan, this sport should not be banned by the Taliban according to Afghan discipline officials, who ensure that the Taliban « Like » And « Support » This game.

A sentiment shared by the Indian Lalchand Rajput, former coach of the Afghanistan cricket team (2016-2017): « Yes, it is really scary to see the images of Afghanistan on television », He told the Indian daily The Times of India .

« I’m sure they [les talibans, NdlR] will support cricket as it is the biggest sport in Afghanistan, he continues. It brings a lot of happiness to the lives of Afghans. I am in contact with most of the players. They were convinced that cricket will not be disrupted. « 

However, these comments need to be qualified. Rashid Khan, one of Afghanistan’s best-known cricketers, has expressed his fears. Currently in the UK to participate in The Hundred tournament, he was able to trade with former South African cricket glory Kevin Pietersen.

He then explained to the British television channel Sky Sports how Khan saw the situation in Afghanistan from a distance: “We had a long conversation to talk about it and he is worried. He cannot get his family out of Afghanistan ”.

The player himself posted a message on social media Twitter on August 10 calling for « World leaders » Not to “Not let Afghanistan sink into chaos”.

« We want peace »Khan had added. A petition which illustrates well the change made in Afghanistan.

The first effects are already being felt in the world of sport. The Afghan Paralympic delegation, made up of two athletes, was unable to fly to the Tokyo Paralympic Games (which start on August 24), due to the blockade of the country’s airports.

This will prevent Zakia Khudadadi (23), a taekwondo specialist, from becoming the first Afghan woman in history to participate in the Paralympic Games.

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