- Karim banned by Fifa after female players reported abuse
- Court of arbitration for sport confirms punishment
The court of arbitration for sport (Cas) has dismissed the appeal of Keramuudin Karim, a former president of the Afghanistan Football Federation, against his lifetime ban from football.
Karim was given the ban and fined 1 million Swiss francs by the Fifa ethics committee for breaching its code after players came forward to the Guardian in November 2018 to expose sexual, physical and emotional abuses of members of the Afghanistan Women’s team.
A statement from Cas said that it “dismissed the appeal and confirmed the decision taken by the adjudicatory chamber of the Fifa ethics committee on 8 June 2019, in which Keramuudin Karim was found to have breached article 23 (protection of physical and mental integrity) and article 25 (abuse of position) of the Fifa code of ethics and sanctioned him with a life ban from all football-related activities (administrative, sports or any other) at both national and international level”.
Members of the Afghanistan Women’s team, some of whom had detailed their abuses anonymously to the Guardian, testified to the Cas hearing “from a secured place, by telephone, using a voice scrambler to protect their identity”, the statement said.
“The panel in charge of this matter underlined that, unlike bribery and match-fixing which damage the integrity of the sport, the offences committed by Keramuudin Karim violated basic human rights and damaged the mental and physical dignity and integrity of young female players. With his appalling acts, he had destroyed not only their careers, but severely damaged their lives. The panel determined that Keramuudin Karim should get the most severe sanction available.”
The world game’s ruling body welcomed the decision and said: “In a case of unprecedented gravity, Cas has confirmed the importance of Fifa’s zero-tolerance policy against physical, mental and sexual abuses at all levels of football, as well as the adequacy of the strongest sanctions in such cases.
“Fifa commends the bravery of those victims who, under dreadful personal circumstances in their home country, have come forward and allowed for justice to be served. We trust that their example will encourage other victims and survivors of such terrible circumstances to report them in the future, knowing that they can count with Fifa’s support at all times.”
Incidents of physical, mental and sexual abuse in football can be reported using Fifa’s confidential whistleblower line. It said it had also recently published a minimum package of care to support victims who wish to come forward and had adopted survivor-centred case management when investigating reports of abuse.