Sports Minister Anurag Thakur directs action following alleged assault on women footballers

Sports Minister's directive prompts intensified scrutiny as women footballers file police complaint against AIFF official for alleged assault.

Update: 2024-03-30 12:08 GMT

FILE PHOTO: Sports minister Anurag Thakur at the launching of the Khelo India Para Games mascot Ujjwala. 

Amid escalating concerns over the alleged physical assault on women footballers during the Indian Women's League (IWL) in Goa, Sports Minister Anurag Thakur took it to Twitter, prompting heightened scrutiny from the Ministry of Sports, on Saturday.

"The ministry has further directed AIFF to take strong legal action and inform the ministry about actions taken. The safety and security of players are our utmost priority," he wrote. 

Prioritizing player welfare, the Ministry has directed the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to urgently address the matter and prioritize the safety and security of athletes.

The two women footballers from Khad FC in Himachal Pradesh have taken decisive action by initiating an official police complaint against AIFF official Deepak Sharma for his alleged involvement in the assault as per reports. The Goa Football Association (GFA), recognizing the gravity of the situation, has pledged unwavering support, stepping forward to engage legal representation for the affected players and covering travel expenses for five individuals, along with an additional staff member.

Palak Verma, a footballer from Khad FC, provides a harrowing firsthand account of the incident, shedding light on the distressing ordeal she and her teammate endured. "I didn't have my dinner so chose to boil eggs and eat which didn't go well with Deepak Sharma, he was highly intoxicated. My room-mate was topless in the room and he didn't even care to knock the door," she said to NDTV.

Furthermore, she reveals the added pressure exerted by the team manager, Nandita Sharma, who is incidentally the wife of the accused official. "She started to pressurize us and started lecturing. Her words seemed to convey that we just bear the thrashing," she added.

Jonathan D’Sousa, Vice President of the Goa Football Association also voiced his astonishment at the absence of female staff members accompanying the women's team during their journey from Himachal Pradesh to Goa.

AIFF has constituted a three-member committee to investigate the alleged assault. A report is expected within seven days and Deepak Sharma has been directed to step back and refrain from participating in all football-related activities until the conclusion of the committee's process.

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