KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Keramuddin Karim, the Afghan FA boss who once stepped up on its behalf to accept FIFA’s fair play prize, has lost his appeal against a life ban for sexually abusing women’s national team players.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld the ban and fine of 1m Swiss francs imposed by the FIFA ethic committee. A statement said Karim, 58, had committed “appalling acts” against players who accused him of sexual and physical abuse over a five-year period from 2013.
Special security measures had been taken to protect the players while they testified. CAS explained: “The players testified from a secured place, by telephone, using a voice scrambler to protect their identity,” the court said.
A statement added: “The offences committed by Keramuddin 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.”
In 2014, Karim travelled to Switzerland to collect the FIFA Fair Play Award on behalf of the Afghan federation at the world federation’s annual gala. Five years later, in June 2019 during the Women’s World Cup in France, he was banned for life over allegations by women and girl players which had first erupted in media reports the previous year.
No loopholes for Karim to exploit at CAS. The verdict was widely greeted with grim satisfaction.
Former FIFA presidential contender Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan hailed “a final vindication for those brave players who, despite grave risks to their personal safety, spoke out about the abuse and harassment.”
He added: “The sanctions imposed by the FIFA ethics committee and now upheld by CAS send a clear message that the abuse of women in football will never be tolerated. However, the crisis in football in Afghanistan is about more than just one man and highlights profound failings in the integrity of world football governance.”
FIFA described the case as one of “unprecedented gravity” and commended “the bravery of those victims who, under dreadful personal circumstances in their home country, have come forward and allowed for justice to be served.”
Karim was president of the AFF from 2013 until last year. He had held a number of positions within the Asian confederation.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has issued its decision in the appeal arbitration procedure between Keramuddin Karim, former President of the Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF), and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).
The CAS Panel dismissed the appeal and confirmed the decision taken by the Adjudicatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee on 8 June 2019 in which Keramuddin 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, and ordered to pay a fine in the amount of CHF 1 million.
The FIFA Ethics Committee investigation into Keramuddin Karim concerned complaints lodged by female Afghan football players accusing him of sexual abuse in the period 2013–2018.
During the CAS hearing, several players of the AFF women’s national team stated that they had been sexually and physically abused by Keramuddin Karim. The players testified from a secured place, by telephone, using a voice scrambler to protect their identity.
The panel in charge of this matter underlined that, unlike bribery and match-fixing which damage the integrity of the sport, the offenses committed by Keramuddin 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 Keramuddin Karim should get the most severe sanction possible available under the FIFA Code of Ethics, i.e. a life ban and a fine of CHF 1 million.