Afghan women’s football dream turns into nightmare

Afghan womanlike football players strive for a round during a football compare in Kabul on Nov 9, 2013.Image copyright

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The women’s group was distinguished internationally as a pitch of a new, some-more magnanimous Afghanistan

In post-Taliban Afghanistan, a women’s football group was hailed globally as a pitch of a new freedoms enjoyed by a country’s women.

But now one of Afghanistan’s tip sports officials has certified that womanlike footballers – who defied hard-liners and militants by adventurous to take to a margin in a initial place – have been intimately abused. And it’s not usually football – he certified a problem extends to other sports too.

Most women athletes are too fearful to pronounce publicly about purported abuse by coaches and sporting officials. But several have now disclosed secretly to a BBC what they have experienced.

The liaison has exploded in a final few days. On Friday, football’s ruling physique Fifa pronounced it was questioning claims finished by women in a inhabitant football squad. The Afghan Attorney General’s Office afterwards announced a possess review too.

On Monday, President Ashraf Ghani addressed a allegations conduct on, observant they were “shocking to all Afghans”.

“Even if small allegations means a people to stop promulgation their sons and daughters to sports, we need to act immediately and comprehensively,” he said.

Hummel, a Danish sportswear company, has pulled sponsorship of a Afghan Football Federation (AFF), that is during a heart of a allegations.

Sayed Alireza Aqazada, a secretary ubiquitous of a federation, whose boss Keramuddin Karim is among a accused, steady prior denials. The women’s stories aren’t true, he said. No passionate nuisance had ever been carried out opposite any womanlike player.

But a outcry is display no signs of abating. Questions were asked in both houses of Afghanistan’s council on Monday. Then Hafizullah Rahimi, a conduct of Afghanistan’s Olympic committee, finished a startling matter to reporters in Kabul.

“Sadly, these sorts of concerns have reached us,” he said. “Sexual abuse does exist, not usually within a Football Federation though in other sports federations as well. We have to quarrel it.”

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Former captain Khalida Popal says group have broken a team

It’s a initial grave confirmation that determined allegations finished by former members of a women’s inhabitant football group of prevalent abuse by masculine coaches and others in positions of energy might be credible.

Many of a allegations have come from Khalida Popal, a former captain of a Afghan women’s inhabitant football group who also served as a programme director. She risked her life as a teen to play football in tip – when Afghanistan was still underneath Taliban rule. In sequence not to get held she and her friends played in overpower so a Taliban guards on a other side of a propagandize wall wouldn’t hear them.

Speaking to a BBC from Denmark, where she has lived given 2011, after journey genocide threats in Afghanistan, she pronounced she had witnessed first-hand widespread earthy and passionate abuse of girls and immature women by coaches and association officials. Girls complained to her about a operation of abuse, from rape to passionate touching and harassment.

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She says she roughly mislaid wish of anything being finished about it after she started to request abuse by dual coaches. She took her commentary to a Afghan Football Federation several years ago.

“Instead of stealing them or punishing them”, she said, “they were promoted.”

Some of a pivotal culprits, she claims, are absolute total in Afghanistan with tighten links to government. Officials in a association would tell players that they could get them on a group list and give them income if they had sex with them, she said.

The BBC has oral to several immature women still vital in Afghanistan – including some athletes from sports other than football – who tell identical stories of passionate nuisance and bullying. They contend a abuse mostly happened when they were competing to get a place in a inhabitant group or for a possibility to sight or play overseas. One says she was told: “Show me how pleasing we are since usually pleasing girls will get on a team.”

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The team’s initial diversion was opposite general troops

The allegations about a women’s football group have sold inflection since it was progressing distinguished internationally as a pitch of a new, some-more magnanimous Afghanistan – and a showcase for a freedoms enjoyed by girls and immature women after a tumble of a Taliban in 2001.

The fact that a football track in Kabul where a group lerned was once a venue for Taliban executions usually emphasised a contrast.

The irony isn’t mislaid on Khalida Popal. When she was a football team’s programme director, she recruited American womanlike coaches and many Afghan women from a diaspora. The Afghan women, she said, “dreamed of doing something for their country, of ancillary their sisters behind in Afghanistan, of building a clever inhabitant group that represents a certain picture of a women of Afghanistan”.

“But unfortunately group attempted to destroy a programme.”

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She says that since her allegations were published on Friday in The Guardian newspaper, she’s listened from a dozen group and women who have thanked her for vocalization out, some tearfully, and pronounced they had identical practice though were too fearful to come forward.

“I know my voice can change so many lives,” she told me. “I know my voice can change a system.”

Additional stating by a BBC’s Afghan Service.