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Afghan soccer officials suspended over abuse claims

June 4, 2019

Six Afghan Football Federation members have been suspended over claims of abuse on the country's women's soccer team. Two players have said they were sexually abused and assaulted, but the AFF denies this.

Shabnam Mubarez, captain of the Afghanistan team, wearing her team's soccer uniform
Image: Shabnam Mubarez/AFF

Afghanistan's attorney general said on Sunday that six members of the country's football federation (AFF) had been suspended over alleged sexual and physical abuse of players on the women's national soccer team.       

Among those suspended was the AFF's president, Keramuddin Karim, whom several players — many of them from deprived backgrounds — accused of offering them financial incentives and a better life in exchange for sex.

Read more: Afghanistan's women's team accuse AFF of sexual abuse

Abuse, death threats and rape

Sunday's suspensions were made just days after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani ordered the attorney general to conduct a "thorough investigation" into "shocking" claims of abuse by male officials against members of the women's team.

The allegations were first reported in Britain's The Guardian newspaper. The individuals said that abuse had taken place inside Afghanistan and at a training camp in Jordan last February.

"I know nothing about it," Karim told DW earlier this month. "The matter began in Jordan, where there was a training camp." There, Afghan international players from Europe and America didn't wear a hijab. That resulted in anger back home, Karim explained.

The Guardian quoted former soccer head Khalida Popal — who was forced to flee Afghanistan in 2016 — as saying that her own investigation uncovered physical and sexual abuse, death threats and rape.

Popal welcomed the suspensions, tweeting: "If we all stand together and raise our voice and become the #Voice4voiceless no one would be dare to hurt innocents (sic). #Football is not abuse." 

The sport's global governing body, FIFA, said it is also investigating the claims. The AFF called the claims "groundless" and said it would fully cooperate with the probe. 

Khalida Popal (left) sitting with several girls in a minibus
Khalida Popal (left) in Mexico supporting girls from socially deprived families through her Girl Power OrganizationImage: Khalida Popal

kw/jlw (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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