Basketball's world governing body has opened an investigation after two players of Mali's women's basketball team were caught on camera fighting and exchanging blows at each other following their World Cup loss to Serbia in Sydney. This is Mali's latest loss in what has so far been a winless appearance in this edition's women's World Cup.
The incident was caught on camera by Serbian television as others intervened to break up the fight. The result saw Mali eliminated from the tournament after their fourth defeat. Understandably, the wild fight broke out of frustration and a blame game started between the players after the match.
Fight Outside the Court
The brawl started after Mali lost 81-68 loss to Serbia. A Serbian news camera caught the wild fight between Salimatou Kourouma and Kamite Elisabeth Dabou as it broke out during a post-match interview with Sasa Cado in the mixed zone.
Cado appeared quite shocked and retreated as Kourouma punched Dabou at least three times.
Dabou plays with Centre Dorinthie Basket, whereas Kourouma is under contract with Stade Malien, a professional team based in Bamako, the capital of Mali. One of the players even attempted to connect on a few haymakers before other players rushed in to break up the unpleasant scene.
The fight between Kourouma and Dabou has led FIBA, the world basketball regulatory body, to open an investigation.
"FIBA acknowledged today that there was an altercation between Mali players in the mixed zone following the Group B game Serbia-Mali at the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2022," said a statement provided to Guardian Australia.
"Following the incident, FIBA has opened an investigation. Once the investigation is concluded, FIBA will decide on any applicable disciplinary measures," the statement further read.
Out of Frustration
The Malians, who are one of just two teams at the 12-team championships without a victory, have had a very frustrating competition in Sydney as a result of their prior defeats to Japan, the event's hosts Australia, and France.
Earlier in the tourney, Mali lost by an astounding 60 points to Australia. The Malians have been somewhat competitive in patches but the 118-58 loss to Australia was a low point. They are still to play Group B co-leaders Canada, who were undefeated until Monday night's thrilling three-point defeat to the Opals.
Mali is playing in the competing only after Nigeria, the reigning African champions who defeated fellow West Africans in the Women's Afrobasket last year, withdrew due to problems with Nigerian basketball.
Both Kourouma and Dabou are averaging less than 10 points per game as the woeful Mali team has lost each of their four games by an average of 30 points.
In recent years, basketball in Mali has also seen significant challenges, with a study from 2021 detailing "decades" of sexual assault in the nation's women's game. The report was ordered by FIBA, which exonerated Malian Hamane Niang, who served as the organization's president from 1999 to 2007, of failing to take action on the abuse.