Former Lionesses call for female players to get better protection from abuse

Former England stars Eni Aluko, Kelly Smith and Rachel Yankey are among more than 75 current and former players to sign a global petition calling for female players to be better protected from abuse and harassment.

Launched in response to the sexual abuse scandal which saw Afghanistan Football Federation boss Keramuudin Karim banned from the game for life last month, the petition is part of international football charity AFDP Global’s #FearlessFootball campaign.

The petition urges football’s governing bodies to bring in clear safeguarding measures and educational programmes, establish a whistleblowing process, punish those who break the rules and provide support to affected individuals.

Chelsea Ladies v Yeovil Town Ladies – Women’s Super League – Kingsmeadow Stadium
Eni Aluko has signed the petition (John Stillwell/PA)

Among the other early supporters of the campaign are Chelsea Women manager Emma Hayes, Afghanistan Women’s team manager Kelly Lindsey, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin and former Liverpool and England duo Jamie Carragher and Robbie Fowler.

In a statement, AFDP Global founder and former FIFA vice-president Prince Ali of Jordan said: “The lifetime ban and fine issued by FIFA against the president of the Afghanistan Football Federation is a first step.

“However, much more needs to be done to address widespread, systemic abuse and harassment in women’s football. Everyone who cares deeply about the integrity and standing of the women’s game needs to work together.”

Lindsey, a former US international, said signing and sharing the #FearlessFootball petition would ensure that the survivors of the abuse in Afghanistan “are no longer ignored” and would “highlight profound failings in the integrity of world football governance”.

Supporters will be able to sign the petition at from 1030 BST on Wednesday.