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Former Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF) general secretary Sayed Aghazada has received a five-year ban from all football-related activity for failing to report the sexual abuse of Afghani female football players.

Aghazada received the suspension, and a CHF 10,000 (£7,900/$10,000/€9,100) fine, from the Adjudicatory Chamber of FIFA’s Independent Ethics Committee.

They had launched an investigation into Aghazada following the complaints from at least five Afghan female footballers, who accused former AFF President Keramuudin Karimof of repeated sexual abuse between 2013 and 2018.

Khalida Popal brought the sexual abuse allegations to light in November ©Getty Images

Karimof has since been found guilty of the accusations and banned from football for life.

Aghazada had been general secretary during the time period in question, with the Adjudicatory Chamber ruling that he had been aware of the abuse and had the duty to report and prevent it, according to the FIFA Code of Ethics.

Former AFF general secretary Sayed Aghazada has been suspended from football for five-years

He subsequently breached article 17 – duty to report – and article 23 – protection of physical and mental integrity – of the ethics code.

His ban includes all football-related activity at both a national and international level.


Former head of the women’s department at the AFF, Khalida Popal, lifted the lid on the allegations in an interview with The Guardian newspaper in November.

Popal claimed that in the course of an investigation she carried out into the allegations, she heard claims of physical abuse, sexual abuse, death threats and rape.

At the time, the AFF said it “vigorously rejects the false accusations made with regard to the AFF’s women’s national team” and said it had a zero-tolerance policy towards any such behaviour.

FIFA temporarily suspended Karim from all football activities for 90 days on December 9 last year and a travel ban was later imposed on him by authorities in Afghanistan.

Travel bans were also imposed on Aqazada, head of the AFF Goalkeepers’ Committee Nader Alemi and head of Provincial Relations at the AFF Abdul Saboor Walizada.


Afghanistan head coach Kelly Lindsey and organisations such as Human Rights Watch have criticised FIFA for the slow pace at which officials are being investigated.

Following the announcement of Aghazada’s suspension, the FIFA Ethics Committee have confirmed they are still looking into the allegations that have been made against other individuals in connection to the same investigation and their positions as football officials.

– insidethegames


Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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