HAMILTON, NEW ZEALAND - JULY 31: Bruce Mwape, Head Coach of Zambia, looks on prior to the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Group C match between Costa Rica and Zambia at Waikato Stadium on July 31, 2023 in Hamilton, New Zealand. (Photo by Buda Mendes/ Getty Images)

Zambia Women’s coach accused of sexual misconduct at the Women’s World Cup


Bruce Mwape, head coach of Zambia’s women’s football team, has come under scrutiny after allegations of inappropriate behavior surfaced involving one of his players. The incident reportedly occurred two days before the team’s groundbreaking victory over Costa Rica at the Women’s World Cup.

FIFA, the international governing body for football, confirmed on Thursday that an official complaint had been received regarding the alleged incident. The complaint was lodged by Zambia’s team management after their historic triumph at the Women’s World Cup in New Zealand earlier this week.

Prior to the tournament, British newspaper The Guardian had revealed that Mwape was already under investigation for allegations of sexual misconduct, adding to the seriousness of the current accusations.

A source close to the team stated that several players witnessed Mwape rubbing his hands over the chest of a teammate following a training session last Friday. The inappropriate behavior was deemed unacceptable, and players considered reporting it immediately. However, they chose to delay their formal complaint until after the tournament concluded, fearing that it might disrupt team dynamics.

Despite being eliminated from the tournament after successive 5-0 defeats by Spain and Japan, Zambia secured a commendable third-place finish in their group with a resounding 3-1 victory over Costa Rica.

FIFA’s spokesperson emphasized the organization’s commitment to handling such matters diligently and discreetly. The governing body has implemented a confidential reporting platform to address issues related to abuse in football and assures support and protection for witnesses who come forward.

The Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) president, Andrew Kamanga, has been made aware of the incident but is yet to respond publicly. Similarly, both Mwape and FAZ have refrained from commenting on the allegations made against the coach.

Mwape, who was appointed head coach in May 2018, played a significant role in leading Zambia’s women’s team to qualify for the World Cup for the first time. However, the recent allegations have cast a cloud of uncertainty over his tenure.

Further complicating matters, it has been reported that several of Zambia’s players and staff members have not been paid since participating in the Tokyo Olympics two years ago. Despite assurances from the country’s president, Hakainde Hichilema, prior to the tournament, outstanding payments remain a concern for the players.

FIFA had announced last month that each player participating in the Women’s World Cup would receive a minimum payment of $30,000. However, players from Zambia fear that the funds may not reach them directly, and instead, FIFA may distribute the money through the national federations.

Efforts are being made to ensure the integrity of the sport and protect the well-being of the players involved. FIFA continues to investigate the allegations against Mwape, with a focus on maintaining confidentiality during the ongoing inquiry.

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