Leeds United Chairman Andrea Radrizzani offers to help whole Afghan girls’ football squad trying to escape Taliban

Leeds United Chairman Andrea Radrizzani has offered the club's support for an Afghan girls football squad begging for help to escape the Taliban.

Sunday, 26th September 2021, 4:45 pm

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However, they face having to return following the end of the visas.

The Football For Peace charity is battling to get the 112-strong group to the UK so they do not have to return to Afghanistan

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Afghanistan Women's youth football development team Pic: HillgrovePR

It has written to Boris Johnson to ask for visas and say every squad member has been offered a place on Leeds’ youth development teams.

Leeds chairman Andrea Radrizzani said the club stood ready to “give the girls a prosperous and peaceful future”.

He said: “Football is a powerful tool in building communities and bridging divides. Unfortunately we have seen the opposite of this unfold in Afghanistan where the Afghan Girls Development National Youth Football Team has had to flee persecution.

“Leeds United Football Club have been working with our friends at Football for Peace and the ROKiT Foundation to urge the UK government to help them resettle in the UK and to discuss practical logistics around their resettlement. We stand ready to support in any way we can to give the girls a prosperous and peaceful future."

UK firm ROKiT has also offered to meet many of the costs.

Kashif Siddiqi, a British Pakistani footballer and co-founder of Football for Peace, wrote to Pakistan's Prime Minister, Imran Khan, with a proposal to get the girls out of the country via the Torkham border into Pakistan.

Mr Khan took a special interest in their plight and gave the move his blessing, meaning the girls were allowed to enter Pakistan on humanitarian grounds for 30 days.

Mr Siddiqi, a former Pakistan international who describes himself as a football diplomat, said: “This has been a long 90 minutes of football diplomacy.

"We are now into extra time and call on the Prime Minister of the Home of Football to score the winning goal and take us over the line. This collective effort is a showcase how football can move faster than politics.

"My mother’s struggle and flee from Africa to UK taught me that how important it is for society to come together and support during times of crises.

Faced with the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and the plight of these female footballers, we in partnership with others felt there was no alternative but to get them out of that situation.”

Siu-Anne Marie –CEO ROKit Foundation, On behalf of the Jonathan Kendrick and RokiT Foundation, said: "We are really proud to have worked with providing safe passage and lifesaving support to the Afghan women youth team and their families.

"We are honoured to be a part of this incredible journey. Our Chairman – Jonathan Kendrick’s pledge that started and initiated this mission is ongoing.

"We are excited to see what the future holds.

Football for Peace are launching a humanitarian campaign with the support of the football community to raise much needed funds to help provide humanitarian assistance to people most impacted by the crises and further support in Afghanistan and to help in the resettlement in UK and abroad.


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