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FIFA examining claims of sexual abuse of Afghan women's team

FIFA examining claims of sexual abuse of Afghan women's team

NOORULLAH SHIRZADA

AFP

Several former players have accused men from country's football federation of sexual and physical abuse.

FIFA is looking into claims of sexual and physical abuse of the Afghanistan women’s national football team, the governing body announced in a statement on Saturday.

Allegations of abuse by the country’s football federation (AFF) officials – including its president Keramuddin Karim - have been made by several former players as well as by Kelly Lindsey, the American ex-head coach of the team.

"The serious subjects mentioned are being looked in to by FIFA," the governing body said in a statement, adding that it has a "zero tolerance policy" on such violations.

According to Britain’s Guardian newspaper, the abuse claims have prompted the team’s principal sponsor, Hummel, to cut ties with the AFF and to 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".

AFF denies the accusations

In a statement on its Facebook page, the AFF "vigorously" denied any wrongdoing.

"The AFF is proud to have many young, talented female players in its teams and it does its utmost to support and protect them against all kinds of harassments or any kind of abusive behaviour," it added.

"The AFF has a zero-tolerance policy towards any type of such behaviour."

Talking to reporters in Kabul on Saturday, the AFF’s secretary general, Sayed Alireza Aqazada, said: "The story is not true. No sexual harassment has been committed against any girl football player.

"It is easy for us to cancel or eliminate the girls football team due to the presence of the Taliban and the mullahs, but we don't want to go backwards, we support the girls football team."

He also disputed claims that Hummel had withdrawn its sponsorship due to the allegations.

Four years ago, Afghanistan made major strides to promote female football in the country, by launching its first all-women’s league that runs in parallel with the men’s.

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