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Arrest Warrant Issued For Former Afghan Soccer Chief After Abuse Findings

The former head of Afghanistan's national soccer association, Keramuddin Karim
The former head of Afghanistan's national soccer association, Keramuddin Karim

Afghan authorities have issued an arrest warrant for the former head of Afghanistan's national soccer federation in connection with allegations that he sexually abused female players for several years.

The warrant against Keramuddin Karim was issued on June 9, according to Nasrat Rahimi, an Interior Ministry spokesman. Karim's whereabouts weren't immediately known.

The move came one day after world soccer's governing body banned Karim for life, after agreeing with the accusations from at least five Afghan women players who said they were assaulted by Karim between 2013 and 2018.

Karim was found "guilty of having abused his position and sexually abused various female players, in violation of the FIFA Code of Ethics," the committee said in a statement issued on June 8.

He was also fined 1 million Swiss francs ($1 million).

One of the woman who accused Karim -- Khalida Popal -- praised FIFA's decision but said it was only a "first step."

"Football is not a place for abuse.... Women should be protected," she said in a post on Twitter.

In February, Human Rights Watch reported that at least 20 women had made similar accusations against Karim and other officials in the Afghan Football Federation.

Karim has previously denied the accusations, denouncing them as part of a "conspiracy."

The accusations have roiled the Afghan federation and crept into national politics as well. President Ashraf Ghani has ordered an investigation of Karim and the federation more broadly.

The U.S. ambassador to Kabul, John Bass, also praised the FIFA decision and called on the government to finish its investigation.

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