The World Basketball Authority painted a horrifying portrait of female basketball player sexual abuse in Mali, West Africa, in a survey released Tuesday, but reported in the New York Times, known to the top global officials of the sport. Reports of sexual abuse in his home country, which he said could not be confirmed on his own, were largely ignored.
Hamane Niang temporarily resigned in June as chairman of FIBA, the world governing body for basketball. The Times was preparing to publish a story about systemic sexual harassment in Mali and the abuse of dozens of female players. At least in the early 2000s.
Nian, 69, has not been accused of committing sexual abuse. However, his critics told the Times that he had largely ignored the assault of women during the 12 years from 1999 to 2011, when he first served as chairman of the Mali Basketball Federation and then as Minister of Sport of the country. Told.
And those critics told the Times that, without taking further action as President of FIBA, female players in their homeland, predominantly Islamic former French colonies, where women experience extreme inequality in their daily lives. He said he remained vulnerable to exploitation.
At that time, Nian did not answer the series of questions sent to FIBA and asked for his answer. However, he told the Times by email that he was “unaware” of the allegations of sexual abuse mentioned in the article.
A subsequent investigation conducted by Canadian lawyer Richard H. McLaren, responsible for FIBA integrity, and published in a 149-page report on Tuesday, found that institutional abuse continued in Mali. .. However, the investigation revealed that “no one has direct evidence of President Nian’s knowledge of sexual harassment.”
“This investigation is of paramount importance and we would like to express personal and unconditional support to the victims,” Nian said in a statement on Tuesday. These violations must be formally prosecuted by FIBA through independent procedures. No. The Integrity Officer has confirmed my innocence and I am now resuming my duties at FIBA. “
The two teenagers at the time spoke anonymously, saying Nian attended a nightclub in the capital of Mali in 2006 or 2007 and was groped by a coach named Cheick Oumar Sissoko, known as his best friend Yankee. rice field. Their breasts and hips when they danced together. Players told the Times that instead of intervening, Nian saw and laughed together.
Another former player, now 31-year-old Aissata Tina Djibo, said Sissoko repeatedly made lewd sexual remarks and Niang ignored them in practice. Sissoko also said she sometimes had sex with players who forgave her for fear of losing her position on the youth national team.
Asked if Nian knew of Sissoko’s behavior, Jibo told the Times: The Yankees were his best friends, they were hanging out together. So the Yankee was very powerful. He got the support of the president. “
Frenchman Jose Luis, who led the Mali women’s basketball team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, went to the 2013 African Championship after two players complained to Mali’s Ministry of Sport about Shisoko’s actions. He said he had replaced it. Lewis did not criticize Nian, but said he and Sissoko were intimate and that the abuse of female players was a “major problem.”
Nian denied to FIBA investigators that he had never been to a nightclub with a player or witnessed Sissoko’s unfavorable behavior. Investigators said no victims had come forward to substantiate the groping allegations.
According to a FIBA investigation, the accusation against Sissoko could not be independently verified, but “hearsay evidence provided by multiple witnesses is a concern.” He was suspended by FIBA in June.
The FIBA survey has diminished criticism of Mali’s basketball federation. “There is an institutionalized acceptance of player abuse” within the federation, and “no action or effort has been attempted to recognize or correct this.”
The report testified to some players who testified that 51-year-old Ama Do Bamba sexually harassed and abused multiple players as coaches of the women’s youth national team and did not choose to compete in a particular tournament. I confirmed the Times’ explanation of retaliation. Since then he has been arrested.
FIBA reports that Harouna Maiga, chairman of the Mali Basketball Federation, lied to investigators about his knowledge of sexual abuse and attempted to thwart the investigation. He was stopped by FIBA in July.
The survey also accused the Mali Basketball Federation of being “historically and presently” “completely inadequate” to provide the necessary safeguards to protect young players.
The report also said investigators were hampered by threats from witnesses and victims. According to the report, 22 potential witnesses refused to participate in the investigation. Travel restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic also prevented investigators from traveling to Mali, leaving them to conduct virtually most interviews.
Nian critics said Tuesday that it was unlikely that he was unaware of widespread sexual abuse in Mali during his time as head of the national basketball federation and his sports minister. Reformist Cheick Camara, who said he supported the FIBA investigation, criticized what he said as its lack of thoroughness.
“They are completely aware that the abuse happened in Nian’s day,” Kamala said. “As they said in their report, it’s an institutionalized system. It’s not new. It’s been over 20 years. Nobody did anything to change it, Nian said. included.”
Minky Worden, director of Human Rights Watch’s Global Initiative, which also investigated the sexual abuse of Mali’s women’s basketball players, reiterated on Tuesday what Nian knew or should have known about the abuse. ..
“Based on this report, he shouldn’t be in the office for another day,” Worden said. “This is not the person to lead the world in basketball. His global role is based on the Mali Basketball Federation. This is a report of about 150 pages, full of sexual abuse and It has become clear that the statutory protection required for children has not been implemented. “