Kim Kardashian West pays for U.K. flights for Afghan women soccer players escaping Taliban-lead country

Reality television star Kim Kardashian West is using her platform to help Afghan female soccer players fly from Pakistan to Britain to leave the Taliban-lead country. With the Taliban taking power once again, female athletes are having their ability to play taken away and it is viewed as a political act of defiance against the group to play sports as a woman in Afghanistan.

Members of the team, many who are from poor families, had secured visas in the United Kingdom but had no flight to leave the Afghanistan.

Kardashian West, along with a New York rabbi and a Premier League soccer club made it possible for the 30-plus teenage players of the Afghanistan’s women’s youth development soccer team and about 100 of their family members leave the country.

Many female athletes have left Afghanistan since the Taliban returned to power due to the oppression of women in sports under their regime. The regime retook power after a 20-year war, and since the Taliban returned women’s rights have diminished.

Former Afghanistan female athletes have expressed their joy in hearing the team is now in another country, including former captain of Afghanistan’s national women’s team Khalida Popal.

Popal said:

“Many of those families left their houses when the Taliban took over. Their houses were burnt down. 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.”

Popal added that she was “so happy and relieved” to hear the women and their families are beginning a life in the U.K.

The Tzedek Association, a nonprofit U.S. group that has helped the last known member of Kabul’s Jewish community evacuate Afghanistan, worked to help the team find a new home. 

Rabbi Moshe Margaretten, founder of the group, has worked with Kardashian West before. The two collaborated on criminal justice reform in the United States and Margaretten reached out to her again to help fund the plane from Pakistan to Britain.

Margaretten said, “Maybe an hour later, after the Zoom call, I got a text message that Kim wants to fund the entire flight.”

A spokeswoman for Kardashian West confirmed that the celebrity and her company SKIMs chartered the flight.

Those on the plane, totaling around 130 people, will quarantine for 10 days before beginning their lives in their new country.

English Premier League club Leeds United has also said they will help the players.

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