A plane carrying more than 75 Afghan female soccer players, officials and relatives under threat from the Taliban left Kabul on Tuesday bound for Australia, the first country to offer a haven in response to pleas from a multinational network of athlete advocates and human-rights lawyers. The Afghan team was founded in 2007 with the express purpose of empowering girls and women and giving them the freedom to play sports. “The women footballers have been brave and strong in a moment of crisis, and we hope they will have a better life outside Afghanistan,” said Khalida Popal, former captain of the Afghan women’s team, who was the driving force behind the players’ extraction.

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