Zambia women’s national soccer team coach Bruce Mwape has denied allegations he has had a string of improper affairs with at least five Copper Queens one of whom is banished for any call-up.
The coach also says it will be interesting to establish which player claims to have visited his room during one of the camp sessions alone and was fondled to an extent that she experienced after shocks where she vomited and endured pain. The said named player was later allegedly threatened with being dropped from the team if she told anyone what had happened when she visited coach Mwape’s room.
Coach Bruce has admitted attending a social gathering in 2020 at which one of his players, Fikile Khosa was celebrating her 25th birthday, a development that triggered suspicion that the two were having an affair.
The head coach has been fingered to be among the main culprits in the FAZ sex scandal, with sources in the team alleging he has had improper affairs with at least five players, four of whom are actively part of the 2023 World Cup bound side. Their names were presented to coach Bruce but will be withheld to protect them from abuse.
Mwape’s alleged misconduct hit the ceiling when some of his alleged partners on the team clashed at the 2020 (played in 2021) Tokyo Olympics after they suspected him of giving new entrant Fikile – the Red Arrows defender – preferential treatment.
In an interview on Wednesday, coach Bruce admitted attending a birthday party for Fikile but says it had nothing to do with a love affair. Fikile was eliminated from any national team call up allegedly at the insistence of assistant coach Florence Mwila who also accused her of having an affair with her best friend’s husband in addition to the coach.
“I have worked with them for a long time, I have never had any such interest. There was nothing between me and Fikile. You can ask anyone. But those that can tell you the truth, maybe her boyfriend, Martin Daka, Chisamba Lungu and Jimmy Chisenga. I am sure I know where you are going. There must be someone who gave you false information,” coach Bruce says.
“She once had a birthday party. That birthday party, those who heard that I went there, wondered why I went there. It was not even a well-organized birthday; it was a function at a bar.
“Let people not mislead you, ba Mukoka. I was surprised that a mere visit to a party would create talk. I was in Lusaka with Nchanga Rangers for a league match and Martin Daka, being my former player who knew I was in town, invited me.”
Coach Bruce says he hesitated showing up for the party because he did not know Lusaka too well as he was Chingola-based.
“I actually told them I could not make it because the person I was supposed to go with, Yona Phiri (Copper Queens goalkeeper coach) excused himself. They then sent Jimmy Chisenga to pick me up. They wanted me to attend as a ‘father’ to the player [Fikile],” he said.
“When people heard, they concluded things that don’t exist. I am a very disappointed person. Surely, me attending a party should be an issue? Others say, no because I got a picture with her; how can getting a picture with someone become sexual harassment?”
Asked why he didn’t go with a female coach of the Copper Queens, coach Bruce says, “No, no… listen. If I was going out with her, how can I go to a party where the boyfriend is. Can’t they kill you?”
Coach Bruce says there is a deliberate campaign designed to remove him as Copper Queens coach.
“I am not a full time senior women’s coach employee. For me, it is the same as being a volunteer. So, I can’t travel all the way from Chingola to just come and attend a party. Those that gave you the information should withdraw and give you something else. Otherwise, there is just something they want from me,” he said.
When told that Fikile has never made it to the national team since her appearance at the Olympics, coach Bruce says he gave her an opportunity but the player was struck off the list.
Asked why she was removed from the list and who removed her, coach Bruce did not know. He responded, “those that removed her are the ones that can know.
Coach Bruce says he did not know who removed Fikile from the team even after asking about it.
When reminded that he was the head coach and ultimately had the final say on team selection, coach Bruce responded, “yes, I am but when I submit the list, sometimes there are places it goes through. But up to now, I also don’t have an idea. But you know how these things are. Anyway, we can’t go into the details about that.”
Coach Bruce says he later made a follow up through the team manager to establish why a player he had summoned had not made the team, “We made a follow up through the team manager. The team manager, the person who she named, I can’t tell you.”
The coach also says it will be interesting to establish which player claims to have visited his room during one of the camp sessions alone and was fondled to an extent that she experienced after shocks where she vomited and endured paid such that she would not tell anyone because she feared being dropped.
“No such thing happened. I can’t sink so low. Do you know how old I am? You can mention the player, she will speak for herself. I have never sat down with a player in my room,” he says
Asked if players don’t visit his room when in camp, “what would they come to do? If they come, maybe they’ll be two and there is something they would have followed. I even tell them to go to women coaches if they have a problem.”
Coach Bruce says the Copper Queens stars were too young for him to engage in a romantic affair with. Nick-named Fiki Zozo by her peers, Fikile grabbed the attention of Coach Mwape during the Olympic qualifiers and was given an opportunity to make the team against Cameroon in the back-to-back qualifiers. Her 26th birthday fell while she was at the Olympics.