Zambia opens sexual abuse inquiry in women’s game

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Zambia’s Football Association (Faz) has opened an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse in the women’s game following various claims on social media.

The news comes just two months after the highs of Zambia qualifying for the Women’s World Cup for the first time in the team’s history.

Faz says it has received no official complaint as yet but has launched an inquiry in a bid to address any possible issue.

“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 in a statement.

“We shall collaborate with the Zambia Police Service and other relevant stakeholders in dealing with this matter.”

“We have since written to the Zambia Police to invite anyone with evidence to help with investigations. The nation shall be notified of the outcome of the inquiries once concluded.”

“Until then, we shall provide no further comment on this matter.”

Kashala added that preparations for the 2023 Women’s World Cup ‘remain on course’, with a friendly on 6 October against the Netherlands in Breda unaffected.

Women’s football in Zambia has been on the rise in recent years, with the women’s team playing at the Olympics for the first time last year before reaching their first Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals in July.

This achievement came with automatic qualification for next year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Earlier this month, the team won the Cosafa Women’s Championship for the first time in its history, with recently-recalled Barbra Banda scoring 10 goals in just five games.

Local football authorities has requested that anyone with any information that can help with the inquiry should ‘come forward and report either to Faz or law enforcement agencies’.

Zambia is the third African country to probe sexual allegation claims in the last 12 months.

Earlier this year, five individuals were arrested, with some later released, over allegations of paedophilia in Gabon while Sierra Leone suspended its women’s football coach last year as it investigated abuse claims.

This month, a former Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) official was banned from football for five years for sexually harassing three female referees.