A 16-year-old player told The Times that Bamba sexually assaulted her during the 2020 Africa Under-18 Championships that took place last December in Egypt. As the team trained in Mali ahead of the tournament, the player said, Bamba threatened to expel him from the team when she refused to join him in the shower or in bed. But during the tournament, she said, Bamba walked into her hotel room at 2 a.m. one night, forced her to touch him and then touched her breasts and tried to run her hand under her. underwear. She said she ran away when a teammate knocked on the door.
The player’s father confirmed his daughter’s description of the assault to The Times and Human Rights Watch. The father said his daughter had quit playing basketball, having become traumatized and withdrawn.
An 18-year-old player told The Times that Bamba assaulted her when she was 16 at the 2019 Women’s Under-19 World Cup held in Thailand. He called four young players to his hotel one by one, she said, apparently to give them career advice. Instead, the teenager said, Bamba told him that if she agreed to have a relationship with him, he would provide her with basketball sneakers and equipment like shirts. He started to touch her breasts, she said, and she protested and left the room.
Subsequently, the teenager said, she was initially excluded from Mali’s squad for the 2020 Africa Under-18 Championships. When she and other players complained to a coach and to federation officials about Bamba’s behavior, the player said Bamba threatened them, claiming he had the power to jail them and their parents.
Eventually, said the teenager, Harouna Maiga, president of the Malian basketball federation, intervened and the player was named to the squad for the 2020 African Championships. But, the player said, ” We were pressured by the federation not to talk about Bamba. “
After the Africa Under-18 Championships last December, a text message sent by the player to Maiga, and viewed by The Times, reiterated the player’s concerns about Bamba, refers to a previous meeting with Maiga on the subject and suggested that she was no longer willing to remain silent. “I’m stopping it now,” the player wrote.
Maiga did not respond to requests for comment.
Bamba now seems unlikely to coach Mali at the Women’s Under-19 World Cup in Hungary in August. And Niang’s presence at the Tokyo Olympics is also now uncertain.
If Niang ignored the mistreatment of female players, he should be “banned from sport for life,” said Harvey, of the Center for Sport and Human Rights. âZero tolerance means zero tolerance. If you knew about it, you had an obligation to report it and do something about it.