Guardian sport’s Suzanne Wrack honoured at AIPS Media Awards

• Investigation was into abuse at Afghanistan Football Federation
• President of AFF has been suspended for life

The Guardian’s Suzanne Wrack has been honoured by the International Sport Press Association, winning a prestigious award in Budapest for her investigation on abuse at the Afghanistan Football Federation.

Wrack took the international accolade for Best Colour Piece at the AIPS Sport Media Awards: the category that highlights stories that demonstrate innovation, thinking and research, well written with passion and flair.

In November 2018 the Guardian published an exclusive report by Wrack on alleged violent abuses suffered by members of the Afghanistan national women’s team by Keramuudin Karim, the president of the Afghanistan Football Federation.

A month later the Guardian ran the accounts of three alleged victims of Karim. This detailed the verbal, physical and sexual abuses suffered by vulnerable women. The initial story prompted the suspension of Karim and four other members of the Afghanistan Football Federation.

The Afghanistan national women’s team were allegedly sexually and physically abused by men from the country’s football federation
The Afghanistan national women’s team were allegedly sexually and physically abused by men from the country’s football federation Photograph: Courtesy of Afghanistan women's national football team

Fifa banned Karim from office for 90 days, which was extended by a further 90 days before the world governing body announced last June that he would be banned for life from all football-related activity.

Two days before that the Guardian revealed that senior Fifa officials, the AFC and the AFF – right up to the Fifa general secretary’s office – had been made aware of allegations of corruption and abuses a year before they claimed.

The leadership of the team spoke to Wrack when she approached them about a series of tweets relating to “silencing” contracts players had been asked to sign. Having interviewed the captain the previous year, they entrusted her with details of the abuse and helped facilitate contact with victims still in danger, in hiding and those that had fled the country.

As well as promoting changes in the Afghanistan football federation – with more expected– the story prompted women in other countries to speak out against abuses, including Canada, Costa Rica and Pakistan, and led to the launch of the #FearlessFootball campaign by the AFDP launched by Prince Ali of Jordan.

Wrack has also been shortlisted for football writer of the year in the forthcoming British Sports Journalism Awards, in which the Guardian has been shortlisted for a total of 12 awards.


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