January 2 – Banned Afghan football boss Keramuddin Karim (pictured) has broken his silence over allegations of sexual abuse by totally denying wrongdoing and suggesting his accusers may have invented the claims to help their applications for asylum in Europe.
Just days after Kerim was removed from office last month by the country’s attorney general while the allegations against members of the country’s women’s national team are investigated, FIFA followed suit by banning him during the course of the ongoing probe.
The Afghan government opened the probe into what were described as “shocking” accusations made by several former players and Kelly Lindsey, the American former head coach of the team.
The Afghan Football Federation (AFF) has called the claims “groundless” and now Karim has spoken out himself in an interview with AFP saying he was confident his name would be cleared.
“I strongly deny these allegations. This is a conspiracy. There has been no evidence or proof provided, only a number of unidentified voices, anonymous identities have made the allegations,” he said.
Karim said his accusers might be using the serious allegations to “seek asylum in Europe”.
Or they might be people who are “conspiring to defame us, hurt us in the federation”.
“They are inside and outside the country plotting against us,” Karim said, refusing to name the people he was referring to.
Britain’s Guardian newspaper, which first broke the story, cited what it described as senior figures associated with the women’s team who said the abuse had taken place in Afghanistan, including at the AFF headquarters, and at a training camp in Jordan last February.
“As a father and a husband I have been affected (by the allegations), it has been painful,” said Karim, who has two wives.
Karim said the allegations emerged after a dispute with former head of women’s football at the AFF, Khalida Popal, over clothing worn by some of the Afghan players in Jordan, which the AFF considered inappropriate.
“Khalida Popal has been at the centre of these allegations,” he said.
Popal, who captained the Afghan women’s team as a player, was forced to flee the country in 2016 and seek asylum in Denmark after receiving death threats. She told AFP she witnessed two Afghan officials “mentally and sexually harassing players” at the Jordan training camp.
Popal said she reported the incidents to Karim, who took no action. After launching her own investigation, Popal said she found “more than 12 girls and boys who were physically and sexually abused by the president”.
“He never thought that someone would stand against this powerful guy who has been making the football federation as a kingdom,” she said.
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