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FIFA bans Afghan official in fallout of sexual abuse scandal

October 11, 2019

GENEVA (AP) — In further fallout from a sexual abuse scandal, Afghanistan’s top soccer official was banned for five years by FIFA on Friday after failing to act on allegations made by women’s national team players.

The verdict could remove Sayed Aghazada from the Asian Football Confederation’s executive committee just months after he was elected. He was also fined 10,000 Swiss francs ($10,000).

″(Aghazada) was aware of this abuse and had the duty to report and prevent it,” FIFA said, adding that other soccer officials are still being investigated in the case.

The AFC said it “will wait until the decision is final and binding” before acting to remove Aghazada from his position.

As general secretary of the Afghanistan soccer federation, Aghazada worked with its now-disgraced president Keramuudin Karim.

Afghanistan women’s national team players had accused federation officials of sexual abuse and cover-ups for several years.

FIFA banned Karim for life in June after he was accused by several players of “repeated sexual abuse.” He was also fined 1 million Swiss francs ($1 million).

Afghan judicial authorities and FIFA announced investigations last year when players went public with allegations, seeming frustrated with the pace of previously confidential inquiries.

After Karim was banned during the Women’s World Cup, the American coach of the Afghanistan women’s team, Kelly Lindsey, criticized FIFA for not pursuing other officials more aggressively.

In April, Aghazada was elected to a four-year term on the Asian soccer confederation’s ruling committee. This was despite the Afghan soccer body being subject to ongoing investigations.

Before the elections, former FIFA vice president Prince Ali of Jordan had called on Afghan candidates to be barred while implicated.

Aghazada can appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland.

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