Accusations of Sexual Abuse Continue to Roil Basketball in Mali
In April, Maiga was appointed chairman of the FIBA board for children’s basketball, or mini-basketball, in Africa. Her sister Hamchetou Maiga-Ba played for Old Dominion, was drafted in the 2002 WNBA first round, was Mali’s top player at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and now sits on the FIBA Players’ Commission. His brother Youssouf Maiga is a FIBA referee in Africa.
A division of the Malian basketball federation said in a letter that it would support Harouna Maiga and investigate “the morality” of the witnesses, who allegedly “hid in the shadows”.
Amadou Diarra Yalcouye, secretary general of the Malian ministry of youth and sports, adopted a more conciliatory position. In a statement on Tuesday, Yalcouye said the government “will stand by all victims until the truth comes out” and “do everything possible” to ensure that children can play sports in a safe environment.
But FIBA waited six weeks after the start of its investigation to suspend Harouna Maiga; in the meantime, basketball federation officials attempted to intimidate witnesses, Worden said. A children’s rights group hired by FIBA has been unable to provide legal assistance, trauma counseling and safety to victims, Worden said, in a country where laws protecting women are weak.
On Monday, the father of one of the teenagers who accused Bamba of abuse said he had been called for a hearing by the police, but his lawyer was not allowed to enter the courtroom . The man’s daughter, in training camp for the U-19 World Cup, was not informed of the hearing, he said. The father said he suspected an attempted cover-up and was relieved that Bamba had been charged.
On July 1, Worden wrote an urgent email to FIBA, viewed by The Times, saying that Bamba’s accusers had been called to the Malian basketball federation for questioning, apparently without a lawyer and without anyone. tell them they could refuse to speak.
In the email, Worden wrote that Human Rights Watch feared that a faction of the Malian federation aligned with Niang and Harouna Maiga “is gathering forces to fight back and punish the girls and families who have spoken out.” FIBA did not respond, Worden said.
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