Afghan women's soccer players safe in UK with help of NY rabbi, Kim Kardashian West
Members of Afghanistan's women's youth development soccer team landed safely in Britain on Thursday with the help of a New York rabbi and Kim Kardashian West months after they were evacuated from their home country.
About 130 people consisting of more than 30 teenage players and their families landed at Stansted Airport near London, where they'll spend 10 days in quarantine before beginning their new lives, the Associated Press reported.
The plane was chartered by Kardashian West and her SKIMs brand on a request for assistance from Rabbi Moshe Margaretten, founder of the nonprofit group Tzedek Association. The English Premier club Leeds United has offered to support the players, per the AP.
Club majority owner Andrea Radrizzani shared a photo on Twitter.
first chapter written today! When I received a call asking help to rescue the youth w team from Afghanistan,I didn’t know even from where to start. Today they flew to UK. Proud to be part of the team to make this real. Let’s dream one day they will play in @LUFC💛💙 pic.twitter.com/XLPv6IXByi
— Andrea Radrizzani (@andrearadri) November 18, 2021
Afghanistan girls team lands in Britain
The group was first evacuated from Afghanistan in August after the Taliban regained control of the country. The women's national team evacuated to Qatar and Australia. The youth girls team relocated to Portugal.
The Taliban is strict and oppressive toward women and began curbing women's education and freedom after the takeover. Women playing sports is seen as defiance and athletes were told advised early on to burn any evidence they had played as to avoid repercussions from the new regime.
“Many of those families left their houses when the Taliban took over. Their houses were burnt down," former women's national team captain Khalida Popal, who spearheaded evacuation efforts, told the Associated Press. "Some of their family members were killed or taken by Taliban. So the danger and the stress was very high, and that’s why it was very important to move fast to get them outside Afghanistan.”
The developmental team was staying in Pakistan since August and acquired U.K. visas, but they had no flight out of the country and time was running out on their Pakistani visas. That's when the Tzedek Association, a nonprofit group in the U.S., stepped in and Margaretten contacted Kardashian West.
Especial thanks to @Tzedek_Assoc Rabbi Moshe Margaretten one of the hero’s I love and respect a lot. Thanks for helping us with the charter to get my team out of Pakistan, and many thanks to @KimKardashian for funding the charter. 🙏❤️💪
— Khalida Popal (@khalida_popal) November 18, 2021
The reality TV star has worked with Margaretten on criminal justice reform and funded the entire charter flight for the development team.