FIFA worried as Afghan women abused | Sunday Observer

FIFA worried as Afghan women abused

KABUL AFP: Football’s world governing body FIFA is looking into claims of sexual and physical abuse on the Afghanistan national women’s team, it confirmed in a statement Saturday.

The allegations against officials including the Afghanistan Football Federation’s president Keramuddin Karim were reported in Britain’s Guardian newspaper. The AFF has “vigorously” rejected claims.

“The serious subjects mentioned are being looked in to by FIFA,” the global body said in a statement, adding that it has a “zero tolerance policy” on such violations. Given the sensitivity of the allegations, particularly in deeply conservative, patriarchal Afghanistan, it said it was addressing the matter in a “do no harm” way and working with reputable entities to establish the facts. The Guardian cited what it described as senior figures associated with the women’s team who said the abuse had taken place in Afghanistan, including at AFF headquarters, and at a training camp in Jordan last February.

It quotes former captain Khalida Popal, who fled the country after receiving death threats and has spoken out previously about the discrimination women face in Afghanistan, as saying male officials were “coercing” female players.

“The story is not true,” Sayed Alireza Aqazada, secretary general of the AFF, told reporters in Kabul Saturday, adding: “No sexual harassment has been committed against any girl football player.” “It is easy for us to cancel or eliminate the girls football team due to the presence of the Taliban and the mullahs, but we don’t want to go backwards, we support the girls football team,” he continued. 

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