Cricket Australia (CA) have announced that the national team will not tour against Afghanistan later this due to the gender equality issues imposed in the country by the Taliban. Australia withdrew from its planned three match series against Afghanistan, expected to take place in the United Arab Emirates in March, after consultation with the Australian Government and other stakeholders.
When capital city Kabul fell to the Taliban in August 2021, the extremist group banned women from playing sport on the grounds that doing so would contravene Islamic laws requiring their hair and skin to be covered.
In a statement on Thursday, CA said the reason for the national team withdrawing from their commitment is due to the Taliban placing restrictions on women's and girls' education, employment opportunities and their ability to access parks and gyms.
"CA is committed to supporting growing the game for women and men around the world, including in Afghanistan, and will continue to engage with the Afghanistan Cricket Board in anticipation of improved conditions for women and girls in the country," the statement read on Thursday.
"We thank the Australian Government for its support on this matter."
This isn't the first time Australia have cancelled a planned match against Afghanistan.
In 2021, Australia cited similar reasons for scrapping a one-off Test against Afghanistan that had been set to be played in Hobart.
The move means Australia will forfeit the series. This will award Afghanistan 30 ICC Super League points. Australia has already qualified for the World Cup in India later this year.
Afghanistan recently toured Australia for the T20 World Cup back in November.
Afghanistan restrictions condemned worldwide
In December, the Taliban banned women from completing higher education, having prohibited attendance at gyms and parks a month earlier. According to the United Nations, women are also banned from attending school beyond the sixth grade and working most jobs outside of their homes.
In November 2021, the ICC formed a working group aiming to support and review women's and men's cricket in Afghanistan but more than a year later, the country remains the only full member of the ICC without a fully operational women's team.
ICC CEO Geoff Allardice said this week that recent crackdowns were worrying.
"Our board has been monitoring progress since the change of regime," he said. "It is a concern that progress is not being made in Afghanistan and it's something our board will consider at its next meeting in March."
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