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FIFA council member, head of women’s soccer jailed for saying Bangladesh PM favors cricket

FIFA council member Mahfuza Akhter Kiron has been jailed in Bangladesh after saying on a television show that the country's prime minister favors cricket and neglects football. (Photo by Harold Cunningham/Getty Images)

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — A Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate sent FIFA council member Mahfuza Akhter Kiron to jail Saturday after rejecting her bail application in a defamation case filed over remarks deemed to be derogatory about Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Kiron, who also heads women’s football at the Bangladesh Football Federation, reportedly told a television talk show last month that the Prime Minister was less interested in football than cricket.

Kiron’s lawyer, Liakat Hossain, told The Associated Press that police arrested Kiron at her residence. She then appeared before the court of magistrate Abu Sufian Noman, who rejected her bail request.

“We sought bail for her after she was taken to the court, but our prayer was rejected,” Hossain said.

The warrant for Kron’s arrest was issued Tuesday. The warrant was prompted by Bangladeshi sports organizer and former state minister of foreign affairs, Abul Hasan Chowdhury Prince, who filed a defamation claim against her on the same day.

Kiron was elected to the FIFA Council in 2017. She previously served as a member of the organizing committee for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015 and the last two FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cups — Canada 2014 and Papua New Guinea 2016.

She is also a member of the Asian Football Confederation’s executive committee and women’s committee.

In his defamation claim against Kiron, Hasan, who is a member of the Mohammedan Sporting Club, said the comment about the country’s sports-loving Prime Minister embarrassed the entire nation. Hasan’s lawyer, Refayetul Karim, alleged that Kiron made the objectionable comments about the Prime Minister during a TV appearance March 8.

“Mahfuza told the TV show that PM maintains double standard for football and cricket. She rewards cricket for personal gain but ignores football,” Karim said.

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