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Human Rights Watch Urges FIFA to “Act More Swiftly” on Abuse in Afghanistan

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Human Rights Watch has called on FIFA to ensure officials implicated in wrongdoing cannot hold roles in football. Photo: Human Rights Watch

By Liam Morgan |

Human Rights Watch has urged FIFA to “act more swiftly” on complaints and evidence of abuse of female players by Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF) officials and criticized its lack of eligibility requirements for officials accused of wrongdoing.

The group said world football’s governing body needs to “speedily and fairly investigate all AFF members accused of facilitating abuse, and set up effective measures to ensure the safety of whistleblowers and survivors”.

It comes after Keramuddin Karim was banned for life from football by FIFA for prolonged sexual abuse of female players while AFF President.

Afghanistan head coach Kelly Lindsey and programme director Khalida Popal have expressed anger that only Karim has so far been sanctioned and cast doubt on FIFA’s ability to properly investigate other officials.

FIFA confirmed to Human Rights Watch that a wider investigation had started, claiming that it was “carefully looking into allegations that have been made against additional persons”.

Human Rights Watch believes this process should be sped up and called on the Afghanistan Attorney General to begin criminal investigations into “all AFF officials apparently responsible for the sexual abuse of female players, as well as those accused of facilitating the abuse or covering it up, including senior members of the AFF”.

The non-Governmental organisation urged FIFA to create new eligibility requirements for all federations, FIFA and regional bodies, to “make anyone who is the subject of any ongoing credible abuse investigation ineligible for any role in a FIFA body where they can intimidate witnesses or influence the investigation”.

“Individuals found to have engaged in serious abuses should be barred from FIFA membership and jobs,” Human Rights Watch added in its statement.

Human Rights Watch highlighted how Sayed Ali Reza Aghazada, the AFF general secretary, was suspended by the Attorney General in connection with the sexual abuse investigation but was later elected to the Asian Football Confederation Executive Committee.

“Whistleblowers and victims of sexual assault should be able to expect that FIFA will conduct timely and thorough investigations of all abuse allegations,” said Human Rights Watch director of global initiatives Minky Worden. 

“Going forward, FIFA needs to urgently put in place a system fit for purpose that will meet international standards of addressing sexual assault, care, and justice for survivors.”

Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.

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