Australia will cancel Afghanistan men’s Test if women’s cricket banned by Taliban

Australia’s cricket board said it would scrap a planned test match against the Afghan men’s team if the Asian country’s Taliban rulers don’t allow women to play the sport.

On Wednesday, Ahmadullah Wasiq, deputy head of the Taliban’s culture commission, said women could not play sports and follow an “Islamic dress code” because it would mean “bareing” their face and body.

“I don’t think women should be allowed to play cricket because it’s not necessary for women to play cricket,” Mr Wasiq told Australian broadcaster SBS News when asked about the future of the country’s women’s cricket team.

“In cricket they could be faced with a situation where their face and body are uncovered. Islam does not allow women to be seen that way. It’s the media age and there will be photos and videos and then people will watch. Islam and the Islamic Emirate do not allow women to play cricket or engage in the kind of sport that exposes them.”

The International Cricket Council responded by saying it was “concerned” about the fate of women’s football in Afghanistan, while Cricket Australia on Thursday threatened to cancel the men’s forthcoming Test match with the country and said it was pushing the growth of women’s cricket “incredibly important”. to the board.

Australia were due to host their first-ever Test against Afghanistan on November 27 and CA said last week planning for the one-off game was well underway.

“Our vision for cricket is that it is a sport for all and we clearly support the game for women at all levels,” CA said Thursday.

“If recent media reports that women’s cricket is not being supported in Afghanistan are confirmed, Cricket Australia would have no choice but not to host Afghanistan for the proposed Test match to be played in Hobart.”

The ICC will discuss Afghanistan’s membership at the next board meeting in November. It’s possible that Afghanistan’s status as one of the 12 full members of the International Criminal Court – which currently brings in around $5 million in annual funding as well as a vote by the board – could be at risk. The ICC plans to seek advice from international bodies on how to address the situation in Afghanistan.

A two-thirds majority of the ICC Board is required to suspend a full member, which means that 12 of the 17 board members – representing the 12 full members, three associate members, the ICC Chair and one independent member – would have to vote in favor.

If the Afghanistan Cricket Board were suspended, steps would likely be taken to ensure the men’s team could continue to play internationals, mirroring the ICC’s approach to the suspension of Nepal and the US in recent years. But when Zimbabwe went into lockdown for several months in 2019, they were also banned from ICC events, meaning they had no chance of qualifying for the T20 World Cup.

This precedent is seen only as a last resort, but suggests that the ICC Executive Board could subsequently decide to exempt Afghanistan from ICC events. With all decisions being made at the November board meeting, the Afghan men’s team’s participation in the T20 World Cup, which begins next month, is in no doubt.

Another possible option for the ICC would be to suspend some or all of the funding for the Afghan Cricket Board. ICC funds for full member nations are distributed every January and July, so the Afghan Cricket Board has not received any money since the Taliban took over Kabul last month.

“The ICC has monitored the changing situation in Afghanistan and notes with concern recent media reports that women are no longer allowed to play cricket,” said an ICC spokesman. “This and the impact it will have on further development of the game will be discussed by the ICC Board at its next meeting.”

Since Afghanistan’s rise, the ICC has taken steps to develop women’s football in the country, notably raising $180,000 to fund a girls’ cricket project through a partnership with UNICEF in 2019. But Afghanistan has never played an international women’s game, despite the The Afghan Cricket Board awarded 25 contracts to women players last November. It is believed that members of the team are hiding in Kabul.

“The ICC is committed to the long-term growth of women’s cricket and despite the cultural and religious challenges in Afghanistan, steady progress has been made in this area since Afghanistan became a full member in 2017,” added an ICC spokesperson.

Afghanistan first joined the ICC as affiliated members in June 2001, during the previous Taliban rule in the country. Cricket gained a foothold during the previous Taliban government from 1995 to 2001 and has since developed rapidly, with the men’s game having proliferated due to the return of refugees from Pakistan.

Mr Wasiq said if the International Criminal Court suspended Afghanistan, the Taliban would not change their position on a sports ban for women.

“We will not violate Islamic values, even if it provokes contrary reactions. We will not abandon our Islamic rules,” he said.

“In cricket and other sports, women will not be given an Islamic dress code. It is obvious that they will be exposed and will not follow the dress code, and Islam does not allow that.” Australia will cancel Afghanistan men’s Test if women’s cricket banned by Taliban

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