Ghani orders probe into sex abuse claims in women’s football team

Kabul: Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani has ordered a probe into the allegations of sexual abuse of members of the national women’s football team following a report that the females were molested by officials from the Afghan Football Federation (AFF).

Calling the media reports in this regard as “shocking”, Ghani on Monday instructed the Attorney General Office to investigate the case thoroughly, the Khaama Press reported.

The President’s action followed a report in the Guardian last week about the allegations of sexual and physical abuse of members of the women’s team by male officials, including the President of the AFF.

“It is shocking to all Afghans… Any kind of disrespect against the athletes and sports personalities of Afghanistan, male and female, is not acceptable. I don’t accept any kind of immorality,” Ghani said.

“I call on Attorney General to assess the case thoroughly and broadly within the framework of the law.”

A number of former members of the women’s football team claimed that some officials from the technical cadre of the football federation abused the team members sexually.

Following the allegations, Khalida Popal, a former player of the country’s women’s football team, also accused the AFF leadership of sexual and physical abuse of the female players.

Popal said the abuse took place at the AFF headquarters and at a training camp in Jordan in 2016, according to TOLO news.

“The challenge that our players were always faced with, was sexual harassment from officials, coaches and people, who came to our exercise camps as representatives of the AFF,” Popal told TOLO news over the weekend.

However, the football federation head Keramuddin Karim rejected the abuse claims.

“It is a custom in Afghanistan that everything is good when someone is in (an organization), but everything is broken and disrupted when that person is out,” he said.

“I am really disappointed about their (women footballers) remarks and I am sorry that they made such remarks, which are difficult for them and for any other person to prove the allegations. Now the issue is legal and we must follow it,” he added.