ICC board set to discuss Afghanistan’s full status membership

Photo: ACB

Afghanistan cricket’s future and its full member status will come under discussion at the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) board meeting this weekend in Dubai as questions continue to be raised over the absence of a national women’s team.

The quarterly meeting, the first of this year, began on Thursday but all eyes will fall on the Chief Executives’ Committee (CEC) meeting on Saturday where the ICC’s working group on Afghanistan will present its updated report to the board on the situation in Afghanistan since the Taliban took power in the country in August 2021.

Since November, the ICC’s deputy chair and head of the working group, Imran Khwaja, has met with officials from the Afghanistan Cricket Board and the Taliban in Doha on two occasions.

ESPNcricket reports that Khwaja has been assured that the Taliban does not interfere in cricket affairs but has been told that any women’s cricket under Taliban rule is “near impossible”.

Full ICC membership, which Afghanistan gained in 2017, requires the member cricket authority to have a functioning women’s team. However, the absence of a women’s team since the Taliban takeover has brought Afghanistan’s full status membership into question.

Some commentators have said that the absence of a women’s team is out of the ACB’s control – given that there is a blanket ban by the Taliban on women playing sport in the country.

Recently, the ACB put out a call for Afghan women football players to come forward so that a national team can be reestablished – outside Afghanistan. In addition, reports indicate there have been informal talks on this and on funding of such a team.

However, ESPN reported that the working group looks set to make the ICC board aware that such options could prove counterproductive, even dangerous, for those on the ground in the country.

Former women’s team ready to represent Afghanistan

One member of Afghanistan’s women’s team, who is based in Australia, meanwhile told the BBC recently that the team hopes the ICC will take action at this week’s meeting so that they can officially play again for their country.

Firooza Afghan told a BBC podcast: “I don’t understand why they (ACB) don’t want to speak to us, it’s our right to know about our team’s future.” She also said: “For the first time it’s possible they (ICC) will make a fair decision for us because it’s our right to play for our country.”

Afghan went on to say “it doesn’t matter where we live, the important thing is that we are still fighting to have a team here.”