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Afghan scandal deepens as banned player exposes high-level match-fixing

Former Afghanistan international Mohammad Salim Israfeel Kohistani has restoked the flames of the Afghan football scandal after claiming he was coerced by the country’s football elite into facilitating match-fixing.

Kohistani was banned for life in 2019 and now alleges he was a mere pawn in a scheme orchestrated by then-Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF) president Keramuddin Keram and coach Mohammad Kargar, who also took over as AFF chief in 2019.

The accusations centre around the 2008 Merdeka tournament in Malaysia, where Afghanistan faced Nepal and Sierra Leone. 

Kohistani claims he was forced to act as a conduit, sending emails to the infamous match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal at the behest of Keram and Kargar. 

These emails, allegedly outlining bribes for players and officials, were part of a plan to manipulate results for betting gain.

“I just wrote the emails,” Kohistani insists (via the Guardian). “But they were breathing down my neck, telling me what to say. I was 21, scared, and had no choice.” 

He paints a picture of a young player caught in a web of power and corruption, manipulated by figures entrusted with upholding the sport’s integrity.

Kohistani isn’t alone in his accusations. Several former players have corroborated his claims, alleging Kargar’s suspicious on-field behaviour during the Merdeka tournament. 

Whispers of phone calls dictating defenders to concede goals add further fuel to the fire.

This isn’t the first time Kargar’s name has surfaced in murky waters. 

Accusations of sexual abuse led to his 2019 lifetime ban, and questions now swirl around his alleged role in another dark chapter of Afghan football.

Kohistani’s plight sparks outrage, not just for the injustice endured but for the persistent stain on Afghan football. 

His family, he claims, has been threatened after he bravely spoke out. Despite his lifetime ban, he demands a re-investigation, seeking justice and a chance to clear his name.

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