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Afghan National Soccer Team Player Dies In Attempt To Stow Away On Flight From Kabul


When the Taliban was previously in power from 1996-2001, it banned many traditional Afghan sports on the basis they were "un-Islamic," and imposed strict rules on other sports, including soccer.

Zaki Anwari, a member of Afghanistan's national youth soccer team, has died while attempting to stow away on a U.S. military plane evacuating people from Kabul.

Anwari, 19, died after he tried to cling to a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport jet leaving the Afghan capital on August 16.

His death was confirmed by Afghanistan's General Directorate of Physical Education and Sport.

There are conflicting reports on the circumstances of Anwari's death, with some reports saying he died after falling from the aircraft and others saying his crushed remains were found in the wheel well housing the plane's landing gear.

The U.S. Air Force is investigating the events that led to the C-17 to take off with Afghan civilians clinging to the plane in an attempt to flee the country after its takeover by the Taliban.

Desperate Afghans Cling To U.S. Military Plane To Flee Taliban
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The plane, which had some 640 Afghan and U.S. civilians on board, took off amid a deteriorating security situation as Afghans who had breached the perimeter of Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) surrounded the plane.

Human remains were discovered in the wheel well of the C-17 after it landed in Qatar.

In a statement, the U.S. Air Force said that it "remains laser-focused on maintaining security at HKIA to prevent a situation like this from happening again as we safely process Afghan civilians seeking to depart the country."

When the Taliban was previously in power from 1996-2001, it banned many traditional Afghan sports on the basis they were "un-Islamic," and imposed strict rules on other sports, including soccer.

Women's participation in sports was strictly forbidden, and the country was banned from the 2000 Olympics due to the Taliban's discrimination against women.

Khalida Popal, a former captain and co-founder of the Afghan women's soccer team formed after the Taliban was toppled in 2001, has warned that female players should burn their uniforms now that Afghanistan is again under the extremist group's rule.

"They are so afraid. They are worried, they are scared, not only the players, but also the activists," Popal, who moved to Denmark after receiving threats in Afghanistan, told Reuters. "They have nobody to go to, to seek protection, to ask for help if they are in danger."

With reporting by Air Force Magazine, Reuters, and Ariana News
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