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    Afghanistan’s female footballers make tearful calls for help


    London – In frantic phone calls and voice messages, Khalida Popal can hear the distress and tearful pleas for help.

    The football players in the Afghanistan women’s national team that Popal helped establish now fear for their lives after the Taliban swept to regain control of the country after two decades.

    When they call, all Popal can do is advise them to flee their homes, escape from neighbors who know them as pioneering players, and try to erase their history – particularly activism against the Taliban who are now re-establishing the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

    “I have been encouraging to take down social media channels, take down photos, escape and hide themselves,” Popal told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Denmark. “That breaks my heart because of all these years we have worked to raise the visibility of women and now I’m telling my women in Afghanistan to shut up and disappear. Their lives are in danger.”



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