FIFA: Afghanistan coach’s Infantino criticism ‘unjustified’

LYON, France (AP) — Criticism of FIFA President Gianni Infantino over the handling of sexual abuse investigations was “ill-informed and unjustified,” the governing body said Thursday after the coach of the Afghanistan women’s national team said she was “disgusted” with him.

Coach Kelly Lindsey had demanded Infantino’s departure from FIFA for claiming the organization was not being rigorous enough in pursuing officials in the Afghanistan soccer federation.

FIFA has so far only sanctioned Keramuudin Karim, who was banned for life from soccer last month for repeated sexual abuse of female players while president of the Afghanistan Football Federation.

But FIFA has now disclosed to The Associated Press that it is “carefully looking into allegations levelled against additional persons, and will not hesitate to take appropriate measures and impose sanctions if justified.” FIFA also said how it played a “leading role” in helping players forced to leave Afghanistan “to gain asylum in safe environments and out of immediate danger.”

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“We continue to stay in close contact with them and support them in rebuilding their lives and recovering from the abhorrent ordeal they have suffered,” FIFA said. “The former coach of the national team Kelly Lindsey is well aware of these efforts and the support that FIFA has provided and we are surprised and disappointed at her criticism, which we consider to be both ill-informed and unjustified.”

Lindsey’s condemnation of Infantino came at a news conference on Wednesday in Lyon where the Women’s World Cup final will be contested on Sunday by the United States and the Netherlands.

“I respect the Women’s World Cup, I respect what FIFA does for football,” Lindsey told reporters and an audience that included FIFA head of sustainability Federico Addiechi. “But I do not respect the way they are governing right now. We gave them a clear and concise opportunity to do the right thing and show that they have integrity. We gave them the clear opportunity to dare to shine.”

The event was hosted by Jordanian federation president Prince Ali, who challenged Infantino for the FIFA presidency in 2016.

“I’m disgusted with him as a human being, as a leader of our sport,” Lindsey said of Infantino.

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