Zambia FA ‘surprised’ over misconduct claims against women’s team head coach

World

Zambia’s football association has said it is “surprised” by misconduct claims made against women’s team head coach Bruce Mwape.

It comes after allegations, first reported by The Guardian, that the manager had rubbed his hands over the chest of one of the players days before Zambia’s Women’s World Cup win over Costa Rica.

FIFA confirmed to the newspaper that it had received a complaint and that it had opened an investigation.

However, The Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) said in a statement that it had not received a complaint from “any of the players or officials” in its World Cup delegation.

“It has therefore come as a surprise for us to hear of such alleged misconduct by the coach as reported in the said online publication,” said FAZ General Secretary Reuben Kamanga.

“As a matter of fact, all the training sessions for the Copper Queens were filmed by the FAZ media team and offers no such footage as envisioned by The Guardian.

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FIFA blocks questions to Zambia football coach

“Additionally, a FIFA film crew attached to the Zambian team at the World Cup was present at all training sessions.”

Mr Kamanga said that the FAZ “always demands unwavering ethical conduct of the players and officials on and off the field of play”.

“We therefore would not hesitate to take disciplinary measures and act on any misconduct once we are in receipt of an official complaint or when presented with evidence pertaining to an alleged incident,” he added.

A FIFA spokesperson told Sky News: “FIFA takes any allegation of misconduct extremely seriously and has a clear process in place for anyone in football who wants to report an incident.

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“We can confirm that a complaint has been received in relation to the Zambian Women’s National team and this is currently being investigated.”

Mwape, who has been the head coach of Zambia’s women’s team since May 2018, faced allegations of sexual misconduct before the World Cup.

A previous report in The Guardian claimed Mwape was the subject of an investigation by the Zambian FA – an investigation which has been referred to FIFA and the police.

Zambian football association president Andrew Kamanga described them as “an old story”.

Mwape previously denied the accusations, which he addressed before Zambia’s first Women’s World Cup game last month.

“It has taken about a year now,” he said in New Zealand.

“You are still talking about the same allegations. As far as I’m concerned, they are fake allegations.”

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Earlier, FIFA shut down journalists’ questions about the sexual misconduct allegations against Mwape.

At a question and answer session with Mwape ahead of the country’s match against Spain, one reporter asked what effect the investigation into the allegations had on Zambia’s image.

A media officer for the football organisation stopped the Spanish journalist and said: “I’ll ask you to restrict the questions to the football and the tournament only, for this press conference. I’ll go to the next question.”

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