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Australia Threatens to Cancel Test Match with Afghanistan if Taliban Ban Women’s Team

by Newsweek Pakistan

Marty Melville—AFP

Warning comes after senior Taliban official said he did not believe women should play cricket or ‘any sports where they get exposed’

The Australian cricket board on Tuesday threatened to cancel an upcoming Test match between its national team and the Afghanistan men’s team after a senior Taliban official said he did not believe women should be allowed to play cricket as it risks “exposing” their face and body.

“I don’t think women should be allowed to play cricket,” deputy head of the Taliban’s Cultural Commission, Ahmadullah Wasiq, told Australian broadcaster SBS News during an interview. “In cricket, they might face a situation where their face and body will not be covered. Islam does not allow women to be seen like this,” he said. “It is the media era, and there will be photos and videos, and then people watch it. Islam and the Islamic Emirate do not allow women to play cricket or play the kind of sports where they get exposed,” he said, adding that the Taliban would not violate any Islamic values under pressure from other countries.

In its rejoinder, Cricket Australia said that it would have no alternative but to cancel a Test match with the Afghanistan men’s team, to be played in Hobart on Nov. 27, if the media reports were substantiated. “Our vision for cricket is that it is a sport for all and we support the game unequivocally for women at every level,” it said, stressing that driving the growth of women’s cricket globally was incredibly important to Cricket Australia.

Australia’s sports minister, Richard Colbeck, told SBS News the Taliban’s position was “deeply concerning.” In a statement, he said that excluding women from sport “at any level” was unacceptable. “We urge international sport authorities, including the International Cricket Council, to take a stand against this appalling ruling,” he said.

In a statement, the ICC—the global body that governs cricket tournaments—said it was concerned about reports of the ban on women cricketers. “This and the impact it will have on the continued development of the game will be discussed by the ICC Board at its next meeting,” it said.

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