December 28, 2018
ISLAMABAD — Authorities in Afghanistan have placed a foreign travel ban on five senior officials of the country’s football federation, including the head of the organization, citing an ongoing investigation into allegations the men sexually abused players on the women’s national soccer team.
Friday’s move comes a day after Britain’s The Guardian newspaper published fresh accounts of several victims detailing alleged abuses at the hands of Keramuudin Karim, the president of the Afghan Football Federation, or AFF.
A spokesman for the attorney general’s office in Kabul announced the travel ban, saying Karim and his colleagues have been added to the no-fly list and that they are “banned from traveling out, following the accusation on abusing the female players of the AFF.”
The Guardian was first to report the scandal in November. The allegations prompted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to order the suspension of Karim and others, pending a “thorough investigation.”
The AFF president at the time denied the charges, but he has not responded to the latest allegations by at least four team members who spoke to the paper.
The British newspaper, in its latest report, said Afghan female players requested anonymity because of fears for their or their families’ safety. The victims made claims ranging from serious sexual and physical assault to harassment and threats to themselves or family members from Karim, the newspaper said.
“One said Karim put a gun to her head after he punched her in the face and sexually assaulted her in a hidden bedroom accessed from his office, threatening to shoot her and her family if she spoke to the media. Another claimed Karim threatened, in front of her teammates at training, to cut out her tongue after she ran off when being sexually assaulted, and then attempted to remove her clothes on another occasion,” according to The Guardian.
The alleged abuses took place in a special room Karim established in the complex housing the AFF office in Kabul.
The global football body, FIFA, said it was looking into the accusations and suspended Karim for 90 days earlier in December.
The allegations have drawn outrage from Afghan rights activists who are demanding immediate and “exemplary” punishment for the accused.