5 September 2019
Afghan national women’s team have been recognised winning WFS Industry Award for the Best Women’s Football Initiative
World Football Summit (WFS) has partnered with Women in Football to award the Afghan national women’s team a WFS Industry Award for the Best Women’s Football Initiative, presented by Women in Football.
The campaign #voice4voiceless was set up by the team to denounce the discrimination, mistreatment and sexual abuse suffered by some Afghan players at the hands of certain members of the Afghan Football Federation (AFF).
The players’ bravery in speaking out has resulted in the suspension of AFF President Keramuddin Keram and four other members of the AFF for their violation of FIFA’s code of ethics.
The team will be honoured at WFS in Madrid on 24 September 2019 and the judging panel – featuring members of Women in Football, LaLiga, FIFPro, City Football Group, the Asian Football Confederation and Birmingham City FC – decided that the creation of the #voice4voiceless campaign reflected the bravery and spirit of Afghan's national women who fought tirelessly to expose that abuse.
Kelly Lindsey, Afghanistan national women’s team coach, said: “It’s truly an honour for the players of the Afghanistan national women’s team to be recognised for their bravery to stand up for change and bring a voice for the voiceless.
"When I started coaching the team, I was beyond inspired by the players’ commitment to their country.
"Their commitment to showing the men and women of their country that women and girls can leave the home, live with hope, dream big, and even play football.
"Their journey to play for their country has not been easy, but this team’s motivation has always been selfless. All they wanted was to bring pride to the nation and positively represent the power, strength, and dignity of being a woman from Afghanistan.
“When they publicly stood up for their human rights and spoke about the discrimination and sexual abuse they suffered, they sparked an international dialogue about the impact of football as an agent for social change and gender equality.
"It hasn’t been easy, many of them took significant personal risk, and have put their families at risk, in the process of doing so. But as a result, they’ve truly become messengers of hope for future generations. Men and women around the world are starting to speak about the abuse they have faced.
"This is not easy to hear or comfortable to take on, but their voices have been heard and their unity has been felt.
“Women and men globally can see that they no longer need to live in the shadows, but rather when we unite together, we can speak out to protect the next generation.
"These women have started a movement, where people globally are having conversations about how to make transformational change together. Their strength and bravery have united individuals and organisations to dialogue and work towards a better future for all.
"Together, we hope football becomes a permanent space for women’s rights and dignity worldwide now and well into the future. What a truly amazing group of women to have had the pleasure and honour of coaching.”
The WFS Industry Awards will take place in Madrid on 24 September 2019 as part of World Football Summit, the international event for the football industry and will be celebrating its fourth edition.
Leading global speakers in attendance include Peter Moore (CEO at Liverpool FC), Javier Tebas (President of LaLiga), Rebecca Smith (Global Executive Director of Women's Game at Copa90) and Assia Grazioli-Venier (Founding Partner of Muse Capital and member of the Board of Directors of Juventus).
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