Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
August 8, 2019
A “culture of abuse” continues to thrive at Afghanistan’s soccer federation because of world soccer governing body FIFA’s “apparent inaction” in a sexual abuse scandal involving female Afghan players, according to the national women’s team coach.
In a letter dated August 6, coach Kelly Lindsey and the team’s program director, Khalida Popal, said that FIFA had been dragging its feet in following up on allegations of sexual misconduct.
Earlier this year, FIFA banned Afghanistan Football Federation’s former head Keramuddin Karim for life and fined him about $1 million after finding him guilty of abusing his position and sexually abusing female players.
At least five Afghan players accused him of repeated sexual abuse in 2013-2018.
But in their letter, sent to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, Lindsey and Popal said that several other individuals were directly or indirectly linked to the case have not been disciplined or fined.
“The accounts mention numerous other individuals, including senior individuals in ongoing positions of power, who committed sexual and physical abuse and/or failed to report abuse even though they knew or ought to have known of the abuse and/or sought to cover up abuse,” the letter reads.
The two also criticized FIFA for allegedly asking the women to gather more evidence in the case, instead of sending their own investigators.
“We did this… at significant cost to our safety and wellbeing,” Lindsey and Popal wrote.
“We were dismayed at the time that such a task should fall to us…but we also felt we had no choice,” they added.
FIFA said it would answer the letter “shortly,” adding that it was “carefully looking into allegations that have been made against additional persons.”
“As stated before, FIFA will not hesitate to impose sanctions if and when justified,” it said.
FIFA began its investigation in December when it suspended Karim.
With reporting by Reuters and AFP
Copyright (c) 2019. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.
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