AFDP Global Founder, HRH Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan, convenes roundtable to discuss sex abuse allegations surrounding women’s football in Afghanistan

His Royal Highness Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan, together with AFDP Global CEO JF Cecillon and the AFDP Global Executive Team, convened a roundtable in London on the 5th of February 2019 to discuss the grave situation of sex abuse allegations in the Afghanistan National Women’s Football Team.

His Royal Highness sought to consult widely and invited key individuals from the fields of sports, safeguarding, law and human rights to join him in London to discuss the urgency of action and the support required to those football bodies, organizations and agencies already providing active assistance.

Among those present in their individual capacity were:

HRH Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein – Founder and Chairman, AFDP Global; President, Jordan FA; President, West Asian Football Federation; Former FIFA Vice President representing Asia.

Kelly Lindsey – Head Coach, Afghanistan Women’s National Football Team; Former US international.

Maggie Murphy – Director of Public Policy & Sport Integrity, Sport Integrity Global Alliance; Co-Founder, Equal Playing Field.

Mary Harvey – Chief Executive, Centre for Sport and Human Rights; Former US international.

Alison Biscoe – Manager, Programmes & Partnerships, Centre for Sport and Human Rights.

Moya Dodd – Executive Committee Member of the Asian Football Confederation; Former Australian international.

Rebecca Smith – Global Executive Director of the Women’s Game, COPA 90; Former New Zealand international.

Khalida Popal – Program and Event Director, Afghanistan Women’s National Football Team; Former captain, Afghanistan Women’s National Football Team.

Kat Craig – CEO, Athlead UK.

Minky Worden – Director of Global Initiatives, Human Rights Watch.

Jonas Baer Hoffman – European Secretary General, FIFPro.

Nancy HogsheadMakar– CEO, Champion Women.

JF Cecillon – CEO and Board Director, AFDP Global.

Marion Vayson de Pradenne – CFO and Company Secretary, AFDP Global.

Shimon Cohen – Director of Communications and Board Director, AFDP Global.

Paul Hijazin – Chair of Trustees, AFDP Global.

Amanda Vandervort – Vice President of Fan Engagement, Major League Soccer; Advisory Board Member, AFDP Global.

James Johnson – Senior Vice President External Affairs, Manchester City Football Club; Advisory Board Member, AFDP Global.

Yuuichiro Nakajima – MD, Crimson Phoenix; Advisory Board Member, AFDP Global.

Invited but not able to attend:

Sarai Bareman – Chief Women’s Football Officer, FIFA.

Andreas Graf – Human Rights Manager, FIFA.

Fatma Samoura – General Secretary, FIFA.

Julien Zylberstein – Chief of stakeholder relations, UEFA.

HE Sima Bahous – Permanent representative of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, United Nations.

Following the roundtable, AFDP Global issued the following recommendations:

Afghanistan Football Federation

  1. Ensure players, staff and their families, including whistleblowing third parties, are offered appropriate levels of protection from persecution, intimidation and violence.
  2. Support legal action and restitution claims.
  3. Encourage thorough investigation by FIFA and the Afghanistan Attorney General’s (AG) office of the alleged criminal acts. Any interviews conducted by the Afghanistan AG’s office should be (i) in a neutral venue in Europe and (ii) in the presence of experts trained in sexual assault cases.
  4. Ensure regular flow of information to complainants.
  5. Ensure publication of full investigation report.
  6. Encourage the most serious sanctions permitted to include financial penalties and lifetime bans.
  7. Demand cancellation of the Afghanistan Football Federation’s contracts of silence with national team players, which do not respect basic human rights and free expression and are not in line with Principle 31 of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
  8. Demand cancellation of the Afghanistan Football Federation’s headscarf requirements, which is in violation of the Laws of the Game rules.
  9. Demand reinstatement of the Afghanistan Women National Team

FIFA, FIFA Member Associations and football governing bodies

  1. Establish a grievance mechanism that is compliant with Principle 31 of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights for those who are victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault within football bodies of FIFA.
  2. Establish a fully-independent, non-conflicted body with full legislative and sanctions powers to investigate player sexual assault cases, in consultation with the experts on the FIFA Human Rights Advisory Board. This body should include experts on sexual assault and exploitation of children and adults.
  3. Commit FIFA Member Associations and Confederations found to be complicit in sexual assault and harassment cases to directly fund penalties and restitution.
  4. Seek penalties for non-compliant FIFA Member Associations to include voting sanctions, financial penalties, suspension and expulsion.
  5. Establish clear safeguarding policies for players and referees, including “bright lines” regarding what is appropriate and inappropriate conduct. These policies are to be disseminated to Confederations and FIFA Member Associations and training held to assist with compliance.
  6. Ensure all relevant bodies have accessible, transparent and independent whistleblowing processes.
  7. Require the FIFA Member Associations to report any suspected incidences of sexual abuse or exploitation to national law enforcement agencies.

Speaking after the roundtable, HRH Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein, said: “Following my urgent call for action in November last year, this roundtable was assembled to discuss the continued and serious concerns for the Afghanistan National Women’s Football Team. Our deliberations centred on the wellbeing and safety of all the affected players and staff.  This must be a paramount priority and today’s roundtable will help to ensure that key organisations and individuals who care deeply about the integrity and standing of the women’s game are able to work together effectively and in an accountable manner.”

JF Cecillon, CEO of AFDP Global, said: “The roundtable highlighted the need for all organisations who share the values of integrity, fairness and accountability to work together in a coordinated way to defend and support women footballers in Afghanistan and, indeed, around the world.”

HRH Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein, added: “The culture in football needs urgent reform and the statutes need to be defined so that being a Member Association of FIFA entails duties and responsibilities to protect the integrity of the game.”