The FIFA President Gianni Infantino has rejected criticism of his office’s handling of the sexual abuse scandal in Afghanistan.
Kelly Lindsey, the coach of the country’s women’s team, has complained earlier this week that FIFA had not reacted firmly enough when she tried to raise complaints about allegations of a number of her players being abused by AFF officials.
“I don’t know why this person has criticized. Sexual abuse . . . It’s something we take very, very seriously. When FIFA was informed about the situation in Afghanistan, we acted immediately, Infantino said at a news conference ahead of Sunday’s Women’s World Cup final.
He said that the first thing they did was not to make a PR exercise about how they react. “We thought of the interests of these girls and their families and their safety,” he added.
“When I am told that some people criticize FIFA, well, you can criticize FIFA for many things and certainly many times you are right to criticize FIFA, but we try to do the best especially in sensitive cases like this.
Lindsey was speaking on the sidelines of the launch of ‘Fearless Football’, an initiative set up by the social enterprise body Association Football Development Project (AFDP) Global and its founder, former FIFA presidential candidate Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan, aimed at eliminating abuse in the women’s game.
The former president of the Afghanistan Football Federation, Keramuddin Karim, was banned for life by FIFA last month after its ethics committee found him guilty of abusing his position and sexually abusing female players.
Infantino added that the investigation, which began in December, was ongoing and that FIFA was actively working with United Nations agencies to help the victims, many of whom have been resettled in new countries.
The Swiss-Italian, who was re-elected unopposed as FIFA president last month, said the political situation in the gulf nation made it a much more delicate case to handle.