Women’s football coach fired over blackmail, sexual harassment allegations

The 18-time champions fired the coach after speaking to players

A women's football coach for Ivory Coast team Africa Sports has been fired after accusations of sexually harassing his players, the 18-time champions have confirmed.

Toure Makadi worked as an apprentice with the reigning national women's champions but was suspended and later expelled from the club on February 16 amid.

Makadi departed after a journalist shared alleged SMS messages he sent to players offering career advancement in exchange for sex.

In a statement sent to AFP and shared by L'Equipe, the club said that media coverage and "electronic messages" across several weeks had alleged that Makadi blackmailed and sexually harassed players.

"The statements and electronic messages obtained as part of [an] administrative investigation carried out discreetly with the athletes today point to a high probability of the effectiveness of the alleged facts," it said.

"Africa Sports of Abidjan strongly condemns such actions, which tarnish the image of the club."

Siriki Toure, the head coach of the women's team, reportedly told the agency that the intern "flirted with a girl" who then refused his advances.

"This case disturbs my team which lost first place," Toure added.

French journalist Romain Molina published alleged SMS messages attributed to the coach at the end of February, which were said to have been sent to some players.

Makadi was accused of requesting sex with players in exchange for help with their careers.

After the publication of the texts by Molina, Mariam Dao Gabalan, the president of the standardization committee of the Ivorian Football Federation (FIF), announced that an investigation had been opened.

Toure not been formally charged or arrested and the allegations made against him remain unproven.

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Molina has been at the forefront of reporting alleged cases of sexual abuse in African football.

In January this year, he reported how leading Gabon football official Serge Mombo had been accused of and later arrested for sexually abusing young players and demanding sex from them as a prerequisite of gaining access to the national team.

Mombo, who was re-elected as the Gabonese top flight's president in June 2021, was also accused of supplying football coach Patrick Assoumou Eyi with young boys to sexually abuse.

Both men deny the unproven claims, which prompted Gabon's president, Ali Bongo, to describe allegations of widespread sexual abuse in the country as a "very serious matter".

In response, Bongo's government has announced that a judicial investigation into alleged sexual abuse of children and young people in Gabonese sports will be held.  

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