In a bold move, eighteen members of the Afghanistan men’s national football team have announced their boycott of the upcoming World Cup qualifier against Qatar.
This unprecedented decision stems from their protest against what they describe as substandard treatment by their own country’s football federation.
Three overseas-based players who captained the squad to a win against Mongolia last month wrote to FIFA and the AFC with worrisome allegations.
Southend United’s Noor Husin and other players are demanding punishment against the Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF) for corruption.
Their grievances extend beyond the poor living conditions and travel arrangements faced by the players.
They claim that the funds allocated by FIFA for the development of football in Afghanistan have been misappropriated by senior officials within the AFF, leaving domestic players struggling to receive the support they deserve.
Farshad Noor, the team captain, and his predecessor, Faysal Shayesteh, are among the signatories, urging FIFA to investigate the alleged financial misconduct within the federation.
Shayesteh, who currently plays for the Indian side Sreenidi Deccan, pointed out that these allegations tarnish Afghanistan’s reputation on the global stage and called for FIFA to halt financial support for the federation.
The players also allege that members of the AFF’s executive committee distributed a significant portion of the $30,000 bonus meant for the squad among themselves.
However, the AFF’s general secretary, Behram Siddiqui, disputed this, claiming that players had received $20,000 while the remaining $10,000 was used to cover team expenses, citing a lack of funds in the federation’s bank account.
The letter further accuses the AFF leadership of misappropriating money from players’ airfare tickets for match travel.
Documents revealed that the AFF claimed back nearly $65,000 from FIFA for a trip to Kyrgyzstan, originally expected to cost around $45,000. Siddiqui defended the increase in costs, attributing it to expired quotations from travel agencies.
Siddiqui refuted the allegations that the AFF president inflated bills for hotel rooms covered by FIFA.
He emphasized that all hotels send their invoices to FIFA, and the money is directly transferred upon FIFA’s compliance team approval.
FIFA has not commented on these charges, only saying they were told and are investigating.
This upheaval makes Afghan football’s future uncertain. The world is watching FIFA’s response to the players’ brave stand for openness and accountability in football, a turning point in the country’s history.