— Published 27 October 2021

Infantino calls on the international community

On a trip to Qatar, host of the 2022 World Cup, Gianni Infantino took a break from his crusade for a World Cup every two years. The FIFA president changed the subject radically, to speak about the situation of Afghan refugees, in particular the families linked to football who have been evacuated since the takeover of Kabul by the Taliban. The Italian-Swiss leader did so during a visit to the Doha complex, where the State of Qatar, in collaboration with FIFA and the Afghan Football Association (AFF), is hosting more than 150 Afghan refugees who were at risk because of their links to women’s football. After thanking Qatar and its Emir, who have enabled the evacuation of more than 70,000 people since last August, Gianni Infantino launched an appeal to the international community, which he felt had not yet been mobilised enough. We now need the help of more governments and member countries of the football community,” suggested the FIFA President. This is not about solidarity or humanitarian aid, it is about action. We will continue to knock on doors around the world in the hope that people will hear our call and that doors will open for these young girls, all of whom have a story that deserves to be heard. The list of Afghan women evacuated includes players from the senior, under-23, under-17 and under-15 national teams, female administrators, referees and coaches, as well as AFF General Secretary Fazil Mohammad Shahab, who has been heavily involved in the promotion and development of women’s football in Afghanistan. The lawyers who investigated the sexual abuse case against Keramuudin Karim, an investigation that led to a lifetime suspension of the former AFF president, also had to be exfiltrated with their family members. FIFA also helped the Afghan Basketball Federation and the Equality League to leave Afghanistan and move to the Doha complex. FIFA has announced its intention to continue to exfiltrate many more women, girls and people connected with women’s sport in the coming weeks.