June 22, 2023 

FIBA imposes sanctions on Mali officials after sexual abuse investigation

Former coach receives lifetime ban, others handed lengthy suspensions

FIBA has imposed several sanctions — including a lifetime ban, lengthy suspensions and heavy fines — on members of the Mali Basketball Federation (FMBB), which the international basketball association announced on Wednesday.

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Former Mali junior national team coach Amadou Bamba was handed a lifetime ban from all FIBA or FIBA-related activities, as well as receiving a fine of 80,000 Swiss francs (which converts to just under $90,000 in U.S. dollars).

The allegations of sexual abuse were first reported by the New York Times in June 2021, which FIBA announced it received shortly ahead of then. FIBA’s initial report of its investigation released on Sept. 4, 2021 said the FMBB “had been negligent for decades in what appears to have become an institutionalized system of sexual abuse and harrassment and cover-ups.”

In addition to Bamba’s lifetime ban, several Mali officials were handed suspensions and fines.

  • Former FMBB president Harouna Maiga was suspended for eight years and fined over $22,000 in U.S. dollars.
  • Former secretary general of FMBB Seydou Maiga was handed a six-year suspension and fined over $11,000 in U.S. dollars.
  • Former FMBB first vice president Amadou Traore received a four-year suspension and was fined over $5,500 in U.S. dollars.
  • Former assistant coach Fatoumata Diallo was given a two-year suspension.

In addition to the punishments, FIBA announced that the suspended coaches and officials must complete FIBA-approved safeguarding training before their sanction expires and they are allowed to participate in FIBA or FIBA-related activities.

The investigation also led FIBA president Hamane Niang, who was the president of FMBB from 1999 to 2007, to temporarily step aside after the allegations specifically said he had knowledge of the sexual abuse but took no action.

But the investigators “received no direct evidence” about Niang’s knowledge of sexual harrassment in FMBB, and Niang has since been reinstated as FIBA president.

FIBA has also worked with Fondation Terre des Hommes (TdH), a child safety organization that specifically focuses on sports, to help safeguard the Mali youth teams in the time since the allegations first occurred — including at the 2022 FIBA World Cup in Australia, where Mali participated for the second time in the nation’s history.

“In addition, safeguarding experts accompanied the Mali youth national team delegations to their international competitions in 2021 and 2022, continuing their education and awareness-raising, as well as ensuring a safe environment for all,” FIBA said in a statement. “This initiative extended to all of Mali’s first division clubs, with whom Tdh conducted workshops and trained local safeguarding focal points.”

The electoral process was initiated with the collaboration of FMBB, TdH, and FIBA in December 2022 through the implementation of a Safeguarding Policy. This policy was subsequently approved during an Extraordinary National Council meeting of the Federation held in May.

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Written by Aya Abdeen

Aya Abdeen is a student in sports journalism at Arizona State University and has been a contributing writer for The Next since December 2022. She is also a sports reporter for the Sun Devils’ women’s basketball team for The State Press. Her work has also appeared on AZPreps365.

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