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Coach of Zambia Women’s World Cup team accused of sexual misconduct, report claims


The coach of the Zambia team preparing to make its debut at the Women’s World Cup has been accused of sexual misconduct and the case was referred to world body FIFA last year for investigation, according to a report in The Guardian newspaper.

Bruce Mwape was accused of coercing players into having sex with him if they wanted to keep their place on the team, according to the report published by the British newspaper on Saturday.

Other Zambian coaches and officials were also accused of sexual misconduct and investigated, including the Under-17 girls’ team coach, according to the paper.

In line with protocol, FIFA said Sunday its independent ethics committee would not comment on whether or not there was an investigation currently underway into any allegations.

Zambia’s soccer association launched its own investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct in its women’s teams last year but didn’t name any officials, coaches or players involved. The investigation was ultimately referred to FIFA, according to The Guardian.

The Zambian association said when it made the announcement in September that it was taking the allegations seriously and had contacted police.

Zambia soccer association president Andrew Kamanga and a spokesman for the association didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment on Sunday.

‘Turning a blind eye’

The Guardian quoted an anonymous source as saying that the Zambian association was “turning a blind eye” to the allegations because of the recent success of its women’s team under Mwape.

Zambia qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, which starts this month. The men’s team has never made it to the World Cup.

The Zambian women grabbed more attention on Friday with a surprising 3-2 win over two-time World Cup winner Germany in a warmup game for this year’s tournament. Zambia captain and star striker Barbra Banda scored twice, including the winning goal in the 12th minute of added time.

Banda has been at the centre of another controversy for the Zambian soccer association after she was withdrawn from last year’s Women’s African Cup of Nations because of a bungled sex eligibility case.

The Zambia association removed Banda from its squad for the tournament over sex eligibility rules despite Banda being cleared to play at the Olympics and at the World Cup. The Football Association of Zambia and the African soccer confederation blamed each other over the case.

Zambia is in Group C at the World Cup with Spain, Costa Rica and Japan and plays its first game against the Japanese on July 22.

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