Reality star Kim Kardashian and Leeds United soccer club owner Andrea Radrizzani helped former Afghanistan captain Khalida Popal in flying 130 Afghan women soccer players and their families from Pakistan to Britain on Thursday.
Copenhagen-based Popal has spearheaded evacuation efforts for female athletes from Afghanistan following the country’s Taliban takeover in August.
Popal said in a tweet that Kardashian and her shapewear brand paid for the charter flight, which included teenage players. Radrizzani said “we are honoured to have played our part” in the efforts in a statement on Twitter.
The effort was also aided by New York Rabbi Moshe Margaretten, Popal said.
“Thank you @KimKardashian and @SKIMS from the bottom of my heart for generously donating all the funds for this flight,” Popal tweeted.
Popal, who was recognised by global soccer players’ union FIFPRO for her rescue efforts, also thanked Radrizzani.
“Thanks @andrearadri it’s an honor and privilege working alongside with you and your great and kind people. We are stronger together,” she tweeted.
Soccer’s world governing body FIFA said in October the evacuation of a second group of 57 refugees from Afghanistan linked to women’s soccer and basketball, comprising mainly women and children, had been completed after negotiations.
Earlier this year, Australia evacuated more than 50 female Afghan athletes and their dependents after lobbying by prominent figures from the sporting world, while several players from Afghanistan’s national female youth soccer squad were granted asylum in Portugal.
Taliban officials have said they will not repeat the harsh rule of their previous government, which banned most girls’ education and forbade women from going out in public without a male guardian.