Two Mali players apologised on Tuesday after they fought each other at the women’s basketball World Cup, with governing body FIBA opening an investigation into the incident.
The scuffle erupted in a media zone at the tournament in Sydney on Monday and was caught on camera while Serbia’s Sasa Cado was being interviewed. Serbia had defeated Mali 81-68.
A short video clip which has since been widely watched online showed Mali’s Salimatou Kourouma throwing at least three punches at teammate Kamite Elisabeth Dabou as a shocked Cado retreated.
Other Mali players shouting “stop” rushed over to intervene and break up the fight.
The two players fronted a press conference after their final tournament game, an 88-65 loss to Canada in which both featured, and apologised.
“We are here to apologise for the image that was on social media, it was not our intention,” Dabou said as they sat side-by-side.
“We were frustrated because of the loss and we’re here to apologise to the whole of the FIBA basketball World Cup. We are sorry.”
They took no questions.
FIBA said was investigating and once concluded “will decide on any applicable disciplinary measures”.
Coach Joaquin Brizuela called the fracas a “sad incident”.
“They are two of our key players and even though it was a sad incident, it was more about they wanted to play basketball at a higher level, and they did show that today,” he said through an interpreter.
“We have learned a lot from playing this tournament.”
Mali failed to win any of their five games after qualifying for their second World Cup as a late replacement for Nigeria, who pulled out citing administrative difficulties around the sport in their country.
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