(Reuters) – World soccer’s governing body FIFA said on Friday it had worked with the Qatari government to evacuate almost 100 football players and their families from Afghanistan.
The Taliban seized control of Afghanistan’s capital Kabul on Aug. 15 and announced a new government last month after U.S.-led foreign forces withdrew and the Western-backed government collapsed.
Qatar’s assistant foreign minister Lolwah Alkhater had said the players and their families were among the passengers to arrive on a flight from Kabul on Thursday.
FIFA said in a statement that the group, which included female players, were deemed to have been “at the highest risk”. It thanked Qatar for its support and for “ensuring the safe passage” of the players and families.
“The FIFA leadership has been closely coordinating with the government of Qatar since August on the evacuation of the group, and will continue to work closely on the safe evacuation of further members of the sporting family in the future,” it added.
Cycling’s world governing body UCI said on Monday it helped in the evacuation of 165 refugees from Afghanistan which included female cyclists, journalists and human rights campaigners.
The International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said last month that the organisation had helped around 100 members of the “Olympic community” in Afghanistan to leave the country on humanitarian visas.
Australia evacuated more than 50 female Afghan athletes and their dependents in August, while several players from Afghanistan’s national female youth soccer squad were granted asylum in Portugal last month.
(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)