Afghan girls' football development squad granted UK visas following Leeds United chairman Andrea Radrizzani's offer of support

Leeds United are one of several organisations who urged the government to grant asylum to the girls, who have now been invited to make the UK their home.

Wednesday, 6th October 2021, 11:06 am
Afghanistan Women's youth football development team. Pic: Hillgrove PR

A group of players, coaches and family members from the Afghanistan girls’ football development squad have reportedly been granted visas to come to the UK.

The Sun reports Home Secretary Priti Patel has given the green light for the group’s 111 visa applications to be approved.

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Andrea Radrizzani. Pic: George Wood/Getty

The squad have been in Pakistan on temporary visas since fleeing Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover of the country, but faced being sent back once their asylum period ran out.

A source close to Ms Patel reportedly told the paper: “At the heart of Priti’s new Afghan resettlement scheme is the protection of women and girls.”

The source added the team “will be able to make the UK their home, free from fear and persecution”.

Leeds United is among a number of organisations which had previously urged the Government to grant the girls asylum.

Last month, the club’s chairman Andrea Radrizzani offered to place all the players on its youth development teams and said his club stood ready to “give the girls a prosperous and peaceful future”.

Kashif Siddiqi, co-founder of charity Football for Peace, which led the campaign to bring the squad to the UK, thanked Ms Patel and Prime Minister Boris Johnson for “giving these players a future”.

He said in a statement: “We’re still waiting to hear through official channels but if confirmed it means that 111 Afghan girls, family and coaches have just had their lives changed forever by Britain.

“Every single visa approved is a life enhanced, the right to education protected and the freedom to play football preserved.

“Thank you to Boris Johnson and Priti Patel for listening to us and for giving these players a future in the home of football. Without Britain they faced a return to the nightmare that is Afghanistan; this decision gives them futures potentially playing for Leeds United and other clubs.

“We’re also hugely grateful to The Sun for supporting our campaign and to Pakistan for giving them temporary safe haven while the UK considered their cases.”

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