Taliban rules out participation of Afghan women in sport: Report

Afghan.

Aryan Surana

The Guardian reported that Afghan women, including the country's national women's cricket team, will be barred from participating in sport under the new Taliban government, according to an official in the hardline Islamist group.

In an interview with the Australian broadcaster SBS, the deputy head of the Taliban's cultural commission, Ahmadullah Wasiq, said women's sport was considered neither appropriate or necessary. "I don't think women will be allowed to play cricket because it is not necessary that women should play cricket," Wasiq said, as per the report.

"In cricket, they might face a situation where their face and body will not be covered. Islam does not allow women to be seen like this,'' Wasiq was quoted as saying to The Guardian.

"It is the media era, and there will be photos and videos, and then people watch it. Islam and the Islamic Emirate [Afghanistan] do not allow women to play cricket or play the kind of sports where they get exposed."

While officials at the Afghanistan cricket board term say there has not been any formal communication regarding the fate of women's cricket, the board's programme for girls already stands suspended, according to The Guardian.

Sportswomen, including cricketers, have been in hiding in Afghanistan since the Taliban took charge, with some women reporting threats of violence from Taliban fighters if they are caught playing, the report stated.

The Afghanistan women's cricket team – disbanded in 2010 over security concerns – was revived last season after ACB handed out contracts to 25 players. The board had also held a 21-day training camp for 40 female cricketers in Kabul. The International Cricket Council (ICC) requires all 12 of its full members to have a national women's team and only full members of the ICC are permitted to play Test matches.

Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) chief executive Hamid Shinwari told Reuters that the women's cricket programme is on hold but men's cricket has been given the green light.

The destiny of Afghanistan in international cricket, which most immediately involves the T20 World Cup and a Test against Australia, hangs by a thread with the Taliban not in favour of women partaking in sport.

Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive Nick Hockley, speaking to the old Melbourne radio station SEN on Wednesday, made it clear that the new regime's stance on women cricketers holds the answers to whether the historic men's Test between Afghanistan and Australia will go ahead as planned or not.