FIFA is investigating Bruce Mwape, the coach of the Zambia women’s soccer team, after players accused him of groping one of their teammates days before the team’s win over Costa Rica in their final match of the tournament, The Guardian reports.
According to the report, several players saw Mwape rub his hands over the chest of one of Zambia’s players while practicing Friday for Monday’s game. After a discussion about when to file the complaint, the incident was then reported to FIFA when Zambia’s World Cup ended, as players were afraid that reporting it before the final game could impact player selection for the game.
“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,” FIFA said in a statement, via The Guardian. “We can confirm that a complaint has been received in relation to the Zambian women’s national team and this is currently being investigated.”
Football Association of Zambia general secretary Reuben Kamanga also commented on the allegation denying there being any sexual misconduct complaint toward Mwape.
“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,” Kamanga said, via The Guardian. “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. Additionally, a FIFA film crew attached to the Zambian team at the World Cup was present at all training sessions.”
In July, The Guardian reported that Mwape, along with U-17 coach Kaluba Kangwa, had already been investigated for sexual misconduct during their time as Zambia’s coaches. Mwape has held his position since May 2018, while Kangwa reportedly left his position.
One player told The Guardian at the time that Mwape would consistently sleep with players on the team.
“If he [Mwape] wants to sleep with someone, you have to say yes,” the player reportedly said. “It’s normal that the coach sleeps with the players in our team.”
Additionally, according to that initial report, players were getting threats from the FAZ to not speak up due to the team’s success. Zambia’s win over Costa Rica on Monday was its first in Women’s World Cup history.
Before Zambia’s first game, Mwape called the allegations from the past year “fake allegations.”