In the midst of the Mali basketball mess investigation, FIBA Prexy returns to work.
The controversy surrounding the sexual assault of female basketball players in Mali has progressed, with part of that progress being the clarification of FIBA president Hamane Niang’s role in the matter.
Niang stepped aside temporarily in June as the investigation was conducted on allegations of systemic sexual harassment and abuse of dozens of female players in Mali.
Since at least the early 2000s, the bulk of the victims have been teenagers. The Times reported on the controversy in June 2020.
Niang was never accused of sexual misconduct. However, most criticized him for not taking action on the cases that allegedly happened between 1999 and 2011.
It is for this reason that most claim the 69-year-old neglected and left female players vulnerable as well as exploited in his home country.
Niang reportedly stated in an email that he was unaware of the sexual assault claims made in The New York Times piece.
However, a 149-page report by FIBA integrity officer and Canadian lawyer Richard H. McLaren detailing the findings of the probe may have put some light on the matter.
The audit indicated that abuse did continue in Mali, but there was no direct proof that Niang was aware of the sexual harassment allegations.
Niang issued an official statement on the incident once it was made public.
“This is a critical investigation, and I want to convey my personal and unequivocal support for the victims. These violations must be prosecuted by FIBA in accordance with its own processes. I shall resume my official activities with FIBA now that the Integrity Officer has affirmed my innocence,” he said.
Two players who were teenagers at the time allege that Niang was present at a nightclub in Mali when the incident happened.
This was during a celebration in 2006 or 2007 as they were holding a victory celebration.
The issue revolved around a coach named Cheick Oumar Sissoko, also known as Yankee, who allegedly groped their breasts and buttocks while they were dancing.
Niang allegedly saw everything but did not intervene. They claim that the FIBA top brass merely watched and laughed.
Jose Ruiz, a Frenchman, eventually took over from Sissoko for the 2013 African championships.
He did not criticize Niang and only said that he was close with Sissoko and that abuse of female players in Mali was a big problem.
For now, Niang may be in the clear. But his critics feel that it was impossible that the FIBA executive did not know about. Washington Newsday Brief News.