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Afghan Cricket Board Assures Women’s Game Will Remain

A
ccording to the Head of Sport in Afghanistan, female players will continue to be able to play cricket under the condition that they abide by the Islamic dress code, as Cricket Australia takes their stance on the issue by threatening one of the greatest matches of the year. 

Speaking to SBS on Monday, Afghanistan Cricket Board (ABC) chairman, Azizullah Fazli, confirmed that the sporting organisation has not received any direct Taliban orders banning women from cricket.

Fazil assured that all activities of the sport were resuming as ‘normal’, despite the chaos evolving in the country as a result of the Taliban taking over in mid-August, and that women are permitted to play the sport as long as they abide by the Islamic dress code. 

Mr Fazli said: “We have not received any instruction [that] women’s cricket is facing any challenges.” 

“Even before [the Taliban takeover], if Afghan women players played any sport, they have always followed the Islamic dress code.

“We can also see women players from Oman [and] Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia, their women players always follow the Islamic dress code,” Fazli said.

The uncertainty for the future of women’s cricket stemmed in early September, when the Taliban’s cultural commission head deputy, Ahmadullah Wasiq, told Australian broadcaster SBS that it was neither necessary nor obedient for women to play sport. 

Wasiq said: “I don’t think women will be allowed to play cricket because it is not necessary that women should play cricket.” 

“In cricket, they might face a situation where their face and body will not be covered, and Islam does not allow women to be seen like this.

‘Islam and the Islamic Emirate do not allow women to play cricket or play the kind of sports where they get exposed,” he said. 

Cricket Australia has since taken action against Wasiq’s comments, threatening to cancel the historic men’s cricket Test between Australia and Afghanistan in Hobart on November 27, if the news reports on the Taliban’s views of the women’s game were true. 

Cricket Australia released a statement that read: “Our vision for cricket is that it is a sport for all and we support the game unequivocally for women at every level.”

“In recent media reports that women’s cricket will not be supported in Afghanistan are substantiated, Cricket Australia would have no alternative but to not host Afghanistan for the proposed Test Match due to be played in Hobart,” the statement read. 

Mr Fazil has since responded to the backlash, requesting Australian authorities and the cricket board to not release any statement without clarification and to deal with the ACB formally.  

Fazil said: “We request the Australian prime minister, parliament and cricket board authorities and former cricket players [to] let the nations come together.”

“If the cricket Test takes place, millions of people will watch it and they shouldn’t take this joy away from people,” Fazil said.

Although a Cricket Australia spokesperson told SBS on Monday that they have made their position very clear and are in regular communication with the ABC. 

The ICC has also addressed their concern on the issue and will discuss future circumstances in their next board meeting.

In order to suspend a nations Test status, two-thirds of the ICC members board will need to vote against the match being played.