With the announcement of the newly elected cabinet of the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan (IEA) in the non-time bound interim government setup under the Taliban, statements and orders have started to come out from various ministries, which are putting the issue of acceptance and legitimacy of the group’s rule in the country, under serious scrutiny.
One of the decisions taken by the IEA’s cultural commission, womens have been barred from playing cricket or any other sport, in which their bodies could be seen.
“It wasn’t necessary for women to play cricket because they might face a situation where their face and body will not be covered. Islam does not allow women to be seen like this”, said Ahmadullah Wasiq, deputy head of Taliban’s cultural commission, during an interview with SBS News.
The decision has raised many questions over the future of Afghanistan in international cricket and other sports.
The ban has already started to get strong reactions as Cricket Australia has said that it would cancel the upcoming Test match against Afghanistan, scheduled for November this year, if women are not allowed to play the sport under the Taliban regime.
“If recent media reports that women’s cricket will not be supported in Afghanistan are substantiated, Cricket Australia would have no other alternative but to not host Afghanistan for the proposed Test Match due to be played in Hobart,” said Australian Sports minister Richard Colbeck.
“Individual Afghanistan athletes would continue to be welcome in Australia but not under the Taliban flag if females cannot compete.”
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has also stated that the issue of Afghanistan’s new status will come under discussion at their next board meeting.
The ICC said that it is closely monitoring the situation in Afghanistan and expressed concerned about reports of women being barred from playing cricket.
“This and the impact it will have on the continued development of the game will be discussed by the ICC Board and its next meeting,” said a Council spokesperson.
On the other hand, the Afghanistan Cricket Board expected such a stance by the Taliban led government and admitted that women game was in perils.
Afghanistan’s men’s cricket team is a full member of the ICC and is due to play in the T20 World Cup.
However, with the ban on female cricket and sports in the country, cricket authorities are now looking towards the implications of the ICC recognition to Afghanistan, a country that happens to be the only nation to be given full membership status to the ICC without having an operational women’s team in place.
(Hamza Ameer reporting from Ground Zero)