Afghanistan football: Khadija Popal stuns parliament

Alistair Darling MP accompanied footballer Khalida Popal when she addressed MPs

She was the nation’s national football hero in a country blighted by war and tribal violence.

For 17 years, Afghan Football Federation president Khalida Popal has been campaigning for peace and equality.

Now, in an emotional high-profile speech in parliament, she revealed her father’s brutal death and the abuse suffered by her and other female footballers under the Taliban.

“My father was taken away by the Taliban, who did not allow my sisters and I to go out of the house. In those days, no woman was allowed to be out of the house in the evening,” Popal said.

“One day a girl returned home late. My father stopped me. I was afraid. He told me he would fight me. I left the house without my mother.

“There was a terrible disaster that happened between 1989 and 1992. I lost my father and my uncle. All my brothers died. Taliban do not respect human life. They don’t respect women’s life.

“My story should be an example to our leaders. Why won’t you listen to people?”

Afghanistan is scheduled to hold parliamentary elections on 7 October.

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