Afghanistan Women's Football Team Alleges Sexual, Physical Abuse by Coaches & Officials, Probe Ordered
File image of Afghanistan women's football team (Photo credit: AFF Twitter)

Kabul, December 5: Afghanistan president Ashraf Ghani has ordered an investigation into allegations of sexual and physical abuse of members of the national women's football team by male coaches, officials and the head of the Afghan Football Federation (AFF). The probe was ordered after Ghani held a closed-door meeting with the Afghanistan National Olympic Committee on Monday.

Khalida Popal, a former head of the women’s football department at the AFF, along with other players and head coach of women's football team Kelly Lindsey told The Guardian that members were abused sexually and physically and received death and rape threats. Popal was forced to flee the country in 2016 following death threats. FifaGate: Guatemala Ex-football Boss’s Guilty Plea Revealed.

"It was very difficult for us, living in the country, to talk about these things because these are very powerful guys. If a player from Afghanistan raised a voice they can get killed," Popal was quoted as saying. Describing what allegedly happened, she further said that two males were sent with Afghan players to Jordan for a training session in January.

“They were bullying and harassing the girls, particularly the ones from Afghanistan because they knew they wouldn’t speak up. I confronted them, told them they can’t do that and I’d make a complaint. It continued. These guys were calling on the rooms of the players and sleeping with the girls," the former head of the women’s football department alleged.

"AFF staff members would say to girls that they could get them on the team list and would pay them £100 a month if they would say yes to everything. They were pushing and forcing the girls. Coercing them," she added. She also accused Keramuddin Keram, the president of the AFF, of inaction when she conveyed the players' ordeal to him.

Kelly Lindsey said the two male officials alleged to have abused players in Jordan “were promoted and moved to other areas within the AFF”. FIFA is too examining the allegations of sexual and physical abuse. Sayed Alireza Aqazada, AFF's secretary-general, denied the allegations, claiming they were "all baseless and untrue".