KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan’s Attorney General has suspended the head of the Afghan Football Federation after a probe into allegations of sexual abuse of members of the national women’s football team, a spokesman for the attorney general said on Sunday.
President Ashraf Ghani ordered an investigation after Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported last week that senior figures linked to the Afghan women’s team alleged that some players had been molested by officials from the football federation.
Jamshid Rasouli, a spokesman for the attorney general, said the officials had been suspended following a recommendation from the team set up to investigate the incident.
According to the Guardian, the alleged abuses took place inside the federation’s headquarters in Afghanistan as well as at a training camp in Jordan last February. Ghani called the allegations “shocking and unacceptable to all Afghans”.
An Afghan official said Keramuddin Keram, the powerful head of the Afghan Football Federation and five others had been suspended but added that the investigation is still ongoing to find more details.
Officials representing Keram did not immediately respond to phone calls and text messages seeking comment.
The Afghan Football Federation issued a statement, calling the allegations “groundless” and said it would fully cooperate with any probe.
When the allegations first surfaced, a spokesman at FIFA, the world football federation, said it had a “zero tolerance” policy on abuse and was looking into the Afghan case.
Ranked as one of the most dangerous countries for women, allegations of sexual contact outside marriage can have deadly consequences in Afghanistan. Victims of sexual harassment are often extremely reluctant to come forward for fear that they will be accused of adultery.
(Reporting by Hamid Shalizi, editing by Kenneth Maxwell)