“Without safety and dignity in women’s football, we will never achieve full equality” – full speech by Kelly Lindsey at the launch of #FearlessFootball

At the launch of our #FearlessFootball campaign on Wednesday 03 July 2019, our audience - which included members of the media from across the world - heard from Kelly Lindsey, Manager of the Afghanistan Women's National Football Team. Her powerful introduction has been reproduced in full below.

“It is wonderful to be with you all today at this important occasion and the launch of the FearlessFootball campaign.

When Prince Ali invited me to come to London earlier this year to help co-ordinate a response to the crisis in Afghanistan, I jumped at the opportunity. It was amazing to know that the voices of the women in Afghanistan were really being listened to and to have the support of Prince Ali and the whole AFDP Global team, who chose to speak up when many others chose to remain silent.

FIFA’s ruling on the President of the Afghanistan Football Federation is a signal that the voices of female athletes are starting to be heard at the highest levels. However, so much more remains to be done, not only in Afghanistan given that abuse was endemic across the Federation, but also globally.

In my career as a coach and a leader in women’s football, I’ve been privileged to see first-hand the remarkable drive that women and girls have to play football. I’ve also seen how these hopes and dreams can be left in tatters because of a system that failed to protect them and was then too slow to take action even when the evidence of abuse was overwhelming.

We can’t hide away from the terrible consequences of these failings. I have known survivors of abuse who have lived in fear, not only of their livelihoods but of their very lives, and who have had to escape their country and request asylum.

Abuse and its consequences cannot be brushed under the carpet. We need leadership that extends from governing bodies right the way down to grassroots football – leadership that will protect players and staff and hold people to account. Nothing less than zero tolerance will do.

That’s why we’re calling for football’s governing bodies to act now and to adopt our Declaration of Principles. These Principles put the wellbeing of athletes front and centre, to prevent abuse, ensure that concerns can be reported without fear, and that perpetrators are held to account.

I am so pleased that #FearlessFootball has already received such high-profile support from across the world of football and beyond. But now is the time to apply real pressure and to harness strength in numbers to send a clear message that the system must change. That is why we want as many as people as possible to sign and share our online petition and help bring about the change that women and girls everywhere deserve.

I want to echo everything that His Royal Highness has said. This has indeed been a brilliant few weeks for women’s football. But there is no room for complacency and adopting these Principles really is the minimum that can be expected of every football organisation.

Without safety and dignity in women’s football, football will never achieve full equality.  The legitimacy and professionalism of the game is at stake here. Through the FearlessFootball campaign we can harness the goodwill and positive momentum of the World Cup and help make 2019 a truly pivotal year in world football. We owe it to girls and women everywhere – the players, coaches and leaders of tomorrow – not to squander that promise.  Thank you.”

Watch a video of the speech by clicking here

Add your name to the petition today by clicking here