The Zambian women team has landed in Auckland New Zealand this Monday ahead of the Women’s World Cup that starts next week.
But the build-up to their maiden World Cup appearance has been overshadowed by the sex-scandal in their camp.
The head coach of the team, Bruce Mwape has been investigated over allegations of sexual misconduct.
Mwape who was appointed in May 2018 and helped Zambia qualify for the World Cup for the first time is currently under investigation for allegedly sexually assaulting the players.
The Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) said in September 2022 that it had referred an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse in the women’s game to Fifa, football’s governing body. Mwape and the under-17 coach Kaluba Kangwa are understood to have been among the FAZ employees who were investigated.
“If he [Mwape] wants to sleep with someone, you have to say yes,” one player who did not want to be named told UK newspaper, the Guardian. “It’s normal that the coach sleeps with the players in our team.”
One source who knows the players said they had received threats, not from Mwape himself. “They are being threatened with punitive action if they dare say anything about what happened,” the source said. “The federation is turning a blind eye because the women have had good results. It’s their way to show to the public and the authorities success and a good image. But behind the scenes, it’s very ugly.”
Mwape referred questions sent by the Guardian to the FAZ press office. A FAZ spokesperson, asked by the Guardian whether it had received any complaints about Mwape’s conduct, referred to their statement of September 2022 and would not add to their comments.
“Although we have no record of official complaints from anyone on the allegations, we consider these allegations very serious and have opened an inquiry into the matter,” said the FAZ’s general secretary, Adrian Kashala, in the statement. “We shall collaborate with the Zambia Police Service and other relevant stakeholders in dealing with this matter.”
According to the FAZ’s president, Andrew Kamanga, the investigation was referred to police and Fifa to ensure that it is not accused of “taking sides”.
“We prefer that an independent body such as Fifa which has the capacity to do it will be able to handle the inquiries,” he said in October 2022. “Definitely we are going to take sanctions; we have enough rules and regulations within football which we can deal with.”
The Guardian has contacted the Zambian police for comment.
It is understood that Fifa is aware of the accusations made against Mwape and has been in touch with the FAZ to investigate. However, a Fifa spokesperson said it could not comment on ongoing investigations.
“Please note that as a general policy, the independent ethics committee does not comment on whether or not investigations are under way into alleged cases,” he said. “As usual, any information the ethics committee may like to share will be communicated at their discretion.”
Zambia, one of four African teams in the Women’s World Cup, are in Group C with Spain, Japan and Costa Rica and will play those games in New Zealand.