Middle East

Probe into alleged sexual assault of Afghan women's team taking too long: Human rights group

Afghan female football players celebrate with the trophy after their women's football tournament final match against Isteghlal in 2013. Source: AFP

The Afghanistan Football Federation's president has been suspended for life by FIFA, but Human Rights Watch say a full investigation into other officials is still needed.

A human rights group has urged international football's peak body to act quickly on accusations of sexual and emotional abuse brought by the Afghan women’s national team.

The allegations from players are aimed at members of the Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF), the body responsible for managing the women's team. 

In June this year, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) banned the AFF's president Keramuddin Karim for life and fined him approximately $1.5 (AUS) million after allegations he sexually abused female players, but Human Rights Watch say the federation is yet to conduct a full investigation of all officials implicated by the allegations.

Former Afghan football boss Keramuddin Karim.
Former Afghan football boss Keramuddin Karim.

“The president of the Afghan Football Federation has been kicked out of football after FIFA’s Ethics Committee found him responsible for abuses,” Human Rights Watch director of global initiatives Minky Worden said in a statement.

“But a full test of FIFA’s human rights policy is whether sport is safe for women and girls in Afghanistan – and they won’t be safe until all abusers, including those who enabled crimes, are removed and protective systems for whistleblowing, justice, and remedy are in place.”

Mr Karim has never been charged over the accusations.

The assaults allegedly took place between 2013 and 2018 at the AFF's headquarters in Afghanistan and a training camp in Jordan, according to The Guardian.

According to Human Rights Watch, FIFA said it was "carefully looking into allegations that have been made against additional persons" and would not hesitate to impose additional sanctions if justified.

Earlier this year, FIFA released a statement stating it was made aware of the allegations in early 2018 and "immediately began to investigate".

"FIFA is carefully looking into allegations levelled against additional persons, and will not hesitate to take appropriate measures and impose sanctions if justified, just as it has done in the case of the president of the association," the statement, released in June, read.

Afghanistan's national coach Kelly Lindsey sent a letter to FIFA boss Gianni Infantino earlier this month, noting that no action had been taken against a number of individuals also named in the allegations as being directly or indirectly involved.

“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 read.

“This, and the apparent inaction from FIFA since these concerns were raised has allowed that culture of abuse to continue to thrive in the AFF.”

In December 2018, AFF called the allegations "groundless" and said it would cooperate with an investigation.

With Reuters

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch