LYON: President Gianni Infantino has rejected criticism of FIFA’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.
However, at a news conference ahead of Sunday’s Women’s World Cup final, Infantino said: “I don’t know why this person has criticised. Sexual abuse . . . It’s something we take very, very seriously. When FIFA was informed about the situation in Afghanistan, we acted immediately.
“The first thing we did was not to make a PR exercise about how we react. We thought of the interests of these girls and their families and their safety.
“When I am told that some people criticise FIFA, well, you can criticise FIFA for many things and certainly many times you are right to criticise FIFA but we try to do the best especially in sensitive cases like this.
“I prefer much more to be active and help one person concretely rather than having 10 headlines saying ‘FIFA president, look how good he is’… But we helped. And I hope these persons who have committed these horrible crimes will be held accountable to justice.”
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 AFF, Keramuddin Keram, 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.