FIFA Looking Into Abuse Claims By Afghanistan Women's National Team
FIFA is "examining allegations that members of the Afghanistan national women's team were sexually and physically abused by men from the country's football federation," including Afghanistan Football Federation President Keramuudin Karim, according to Suzanne Wrack of the London GUARDIAN. The claims have "prompted the team’s principal sponsor, Hummel, to cut ties" with the AFF and "call for new leadership." The Danish sportswear manufacturer said it was "presented with strong allegations of severe mental, physical, sexual and equal-rights abuse of the female players by male AFF officials." Senior figures associated with the Afghanistan women's team said that the abuse "took place inside the country, including at the federation’s headquarters, and at a training camp in Jordan last February." AFF Program & Event Dir of the Afghanistan women's national team Khalida Popal, who was "forced to flee the country" in '16 and seek asylum in Denmark, has spoken, together with players Shabnam Mobarez and Mina Ahmadi and coach Kelly Lindsey, "about the ordeal of players within the country and their frustrations with a system that, they feel, has failed to protect them." The AFF in a statement said it "vigorously rejects the false accusations made with regard to the AFF’s women’s national team." It added that it has a "zero-tolerance policy towards any such type of behaviour." FIFA "confirmed it was investigating the claims." A source said that FIFA was "working with the United Nations on some players' safety." The source said, "FIFA has been fully aware of the situation in Afghanistan and has been working hard to secure the safety of the girls." Popal said that, in the course of an investigation she has carried out into the allegations, she "heard claims of physical abuse, sexual abuse, death threats and rape." She said, "It was very difficult for us, living in the country, to talk about these things because these are very powerful guys. If a player from Afghanistan raised a voice they can get killed" (London GUARDIAN, 12/1).