Afghanistan FA head suspended over allegations women players were abused

The head of the Afghan Football Federation has been suspended by the country's attorney general after an investigation into allegations that members of the national women's football team were sexually abused, a spokesman for the attorney general said on Sunday.

President Ashraf Ghani ordered an investigation after the Guardian newspaper in the UK reported last week that senior figures linked to the Afghan women's team alleged some players had been molested by football federation officials.

Spokesman Jamshid Rasouli said officials had been suspended following a recommendation from the team set up to investigate the allegations.

According to the Guardian, the alleged abuse took place inside the federation's headquarters in Afghanistan as well as at a training camp in Jordan last February. Ghani said the allegations were "shocking and unacceptable to all Afghans."

An Afghan official said Keramuddin Keram, the head of the Afghan Football Federation, had been suspended along with five others, but added that the investigation was still ongoing.

Officials representing Keram did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Afghan Football Federation issued a statement in which it called the allegations "groundless" and said it would co-operate fully with any investigation.

When the allegations first surfaced, a spokesman for FIFA said it had a "zero tolerance" policy on abuse and was examining the Afghan case.

Afghanistan is ranked as one of the most dangerous countries for women, and allegations of sexual contact outside marriage can have deadly consequences.

Victims of sexual harassment are often reluctant to come forward for fear that they will be accused of adultery.