New York, Aug 19 (IANS) The international football body FIFA needs to act more swiftly on complaints and evidence brought by women players of sexual, physical and emotional abuse by leaders of the Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF), Human Rights Watch said on Monday.
Specifically, FIFA 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, HRW said in a statement.
Afghanistan’s Attorney General should ensure that 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, are subject to criminal investigation, it said.
Those found responsible should be prosecuted in each case where evidence suggests their culpability, the rights body said.
Female players, coaches and whistleblowers have taken enormous risks over the past three years to collect evidence and file written complaints with FIFA against the powerful male leaders of the AFF, including its President Keramuddin Karim.
“After hearing testimony regarding horrific incidents of sexual abuse, FIFA’s Ethics Committee suspended Karim for life and fined him 1 million Swiss francs ($1 million) in June 2019,” the statement said.
The coach of the Afghan women’s national team, Kelly Lindsey, wrote in an August letter to FIFA President Gianni Infantino that the governing body had not addressed the “widespread culture of abuse” by “senior officials in ongoing positions of power” at the Afghan federation and “complicity at all levels of the AFF”.