US lawmakers ask FIFA to recognize exiled Afghanistan women’s football team

A group of US lawmakers has in a letter to the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) asked for the recognition of the exiled Afghanistan women’s football team.

The bipartisan group is led by the co-chairs of the Congressional Soccer Caucus: Republican Representatives Don Bacon and Darin LaHood, and Democrat Representatives Kathy Castor and Rick Larsen, according to Reuters.

The group called on FIFA to “allow the AWT (Afghanistan women’s team) to represent every woman and girl trapped under Taliban rule… if not for the future of the beautiful game, then for the important message it sends to women and girls around the world.”

This comes after a recent online petition that urges FIFA to recognize the exiled team as representatives of Afghanistan.

Launched on July 26 by a group of diaspora communities, the petition has garnered significant international support with more than 94,000 signatures from Australia, Japan, France, the UK, Canada, Spain, and the US.

When the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August 2021, the Afghanistan women’s football team was forced to flee the country and resettle in Melbourne, Australia. The group has since imposed severe restrictions on women’s and girls’ rights and freedom, including a ban on sports. 

The team has not yet been recognized by FIFA to play and participate in international competitions managed by the sport’s international governing body.

“We, the players of the Afghanistan women’s national football team, were forced to flee our homeland simply because we played football,” part of the petition reads. “We dream of representing our country at the Women’s World Cup. But, FIFA has repeatedly ignored our pleas to formally recognize our right to play.”