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Afghanistan players boycott World Cup qualifier with Qatar

Afghanistan players to boycott World Cup qualifier over treatment by football federation

Sonia Twigg
Wednesday 08 November 2023 08:25 GMT
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Players from the Afghanistan men’s team are boycotting their World Cup qualifying match against Qatar over their treatment by the football federation.

A substantial number, 18 players, have reportedly refused to play in the match, due to take place in Qatar on 16 November.

Three footballers who play overseas sent a letter last month to the Asian Football Confederation and Fifa detailing complaints and allegations of serious corruption by the Afghanistan Football Federation, the Guardian has reported.

“The last straw came at the last camp when a big group of us decided that we’d had enough – 18 players got together and said: ‘If we’re going to move forward, we have to put a stop to this,’” Noor Husin, who plays in the National League for Southend United, told the Guardian.

“We really want change. We want to help domestic players because the money they are getting from Fifa is not being used in the right way.

“We have the worst flights possible and we have to stay in substandard hotels.

“We’ve come together as a group because we want football in Afghanistan to move forward and we believe that it’s not going to move forward with the people that are in charge at the moment.”

Faysal Shayesteh, who is a former captain and also signed the letter, said: “Every year our federation gets financial support from Fifa and from the AFC.

“We want to show a positive Afghanistan to the world so we are asking Fifa to stop supporting our federation financially because the money is going into the pockets of a gang who is ruling football in the country.”

The federation’s secretary Behram Siddiqui has denied the allegations. While players have argued that the AFF executive committee kept half of the bonus that should have gone to the squad for reaching the next stage of the World Cup qualifying among themselves, and that they have been holding on to money from plane tickets of players travelling to games.

A Fifa spokesperson said: “Fifa was informed of these allegations very recently and is currently looking into the matter.”

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