The head coach of Zambia’s national women’s soccer team, Bruce Mwape, is facing allegations of sexual misconduct less than two weeks before the 2023 Women’s World Cup begins.
The Guardian reported on Saturday that Mwape, who was appointed in 2018, and U17 women’s head coach Kaluba Kangwa have both been accused of sexual misconduct.
“If he [Mwape] wants to sleep with someone, you have to say yes,” an unnamed player told the Guardian. “It’s normal that the coach sleeps with the players in our team.”
Claims of sexual abuse by Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) employees were raised last year. In September 2022, the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) said it referred an investigation to FIFA and the police after allegations of sexual misconduct were made on social media, but did not disclose which or how many employees were under investigation.
“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,” FAZ general secretary, Adrian Kashala, said at the time. “We shall collaborate with the Zambia Police Service and other relevant stakeholders in dealing with this matter.”
The Guardian reported that players have received threats of punishment if they spoke out about the alleged harassment.
In a statement to the Guardian, FIFA said it could not comment on ongoing investigations and that any information the ethics committee decides to share will be communicated at its discretion.
Just Women’s Sports also reached out to FIFA for comment on how the organization handles these types of investigations, what steps (if any) are taken to protect players from retaliation, and whether FIFA still plans to provide Mwape with a credential for the upcoming Women’s World Cup.
FIFA said the relevant representative was not immediately available to comment.
Zambia is making its Women’s World Cup debut this summer. In a World Cup tune-up match on Friday, Zambia, ranked 77th in the world, pulled off a major upset against No. 2 Germany thanks to an incredible stoppage time goal from captain Barbra Banda.
This is a developing story and will be updated accordingly.