ICC concerned about the future of women’s cricket in Afghanistan

The International Cricket Council is “concerned” about the fate of the women’s game in Afghanistan following the Taliban’s claim that women would be banned from participating.

The Taliban have formed a deputy ministry after regaining control of the country, and Ahmadullah Wasiq, deputy head of the Cultural Commission, suggested in an interview with Australian television station SBS News that the worst fears of gender equality in sport would be realized.

“I do not think women are allowed to play cricket because it is not necessary for women to play cricket,” he said.

Islam and the Islamic Emirate (of Afghanistan) do not allow women to play cricket or play the kind of sport in which they are exposed

Taliban spokesman

“In cricket, they may face a situation where their face and body will not be covered. Islam does not allow women to be seen this way. It is the media era and there will be pictures and videos and then people will see it.

“Islam and the Islamic Emirate (of Afghanistan) do not allow women to play cricket or play the kind of sport in which they are exposed.”

Under ICC rules, full members must have a national women’s team, but an exception was offered to Afghanistan when they were brought into the fold in 2017. In November 2020, 25 female cricketers were awarded contracts by the Afghanistan Cricket Board, but their immediate future looks bleak. out. .

A statement from the governing body, issued to the PA News Agency, read: “The ICC is committed to the long-term growth of women’s cricket, and despite the cultural and religious challenges in Afghanistan, steady progress has been made in this area since Afghanistan’s accession. as a full member in 2017.

“The ICC has been monitoring the changing situation in Afghanistan and is concerned about the recent media reports that women will no longer be allowed to play cricket. This and the impact it will have on the continued development of the game will be discussed. by the ICC Board at its next meeting. “

That meeting is set to take place during the Twenty20 World Cup, which begins in the United Arab Emirates next month, but an immediate verdict is unlikely.

The future of Afghanistan’s men on the international circuit is likely to come under scrutiny, but they will take part in the World Cup, and their next scheduled test match, against Australia in November, is also likely to continue, while debates continue behind the scenes over an appropriate response.

England last played Afghanistan in the 2019 World Cup (Tim Goode / PA)

(PA archive)

While the Taliban are expected to remain supportive of the men’s cricket team, which boasts a star in the global game of leg-spinner Rashid Khan, the prejudiced attitude towards women’s participation seems unlikely to be relaxed, whatever the implications.

“We have fought for our religion so that Islam must be followed. We will not cross Islamic values ​​even if it gives opposite reactions. We do not want to abandon our Islamic rules, ”said Wasiq.

“In cricket and other sports, women will not get an Islamic dress code.

“It is obvious that they will be exposed and will not follow the dress code, and Islam does not allow that.”

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