In a significant development, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) has imposed a lifetime ban on Amadou Bamba, the former national team coach of Mali, following allegations of systemic sexual harassment within the Mali Basketball Federation (FMBB). FIBA initiated disciplinary proceedings against 10 individuals, including several members of Mali’s coaching setup, after the allegations surfaced in the summer of 2021.

FIBA’s statement highlighted that Amadou Bamba, who faced accusations of sexually abusing underage girls under his care, has been handed a lifetime suspension and fined CHF 80,000 ($89,415, Ꞓ81,275). Jean Claude Sidibe, a lawyer and former president of the FMBB, as well as a former sports minister, defended Bamba against these allegations. Meanwhile, Harouna Maiga, another former FMBB president, received an eight-year suspension and a CHF 20,000 fine.

The sanctions also extend to Seydou Maiga, the former FMBB secretary general, Amadou Traore, the FMBB vice-president, and Fatoumata Diallo, the national team’s assistant coach. They have been given suspensions ranging from six to two years, accompanied by fines. The severity of these penalties underscores the seriousness with which FIBA addresses such misconduct within the basketball community.

The scandal tarnished the achievements of Mali’s Under-19 Women’s Basketball team, who became the first African team to reach the semifinals of the Basketball World Cup in Hungary’s Debrecen. However, the success was overshadowed by revelations of sexual abuse in the lead-up to the tournament. Human Rights Watch (HRW) exposed the issue on June 10, 2021, leading to Bamba’s arrest on charges of sexual abuse against minors.

According to HRW, the abuse within Mali’s basketball system has persisted unchecked for nearly two decades, with senior officials failing to take appropriate action. An independent report published in September 2021 confirmed the presence of a long-standing pattern of negligence and institutionalized sexual abuse, along with subsequent cover-ups.

The individuals subject to sanctions will be required to undergo FIBA-approved safeguarding training before their suspensions are lifted. This training will serve as a prerequisite for their reinstatement into FIBA or FIBA-related activities. FIBA’s statement emphasized its commitment to developing comprehensive safeguarding policies, allocating resources, and providing education to enhance the protection of individuals in vulnerable situations within the Mali basketball landscape.