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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 September, 2004, 15:49 GMT 16:49 UK
Sex abuse claims hit Zimbabwe
By Steve Vickers
BBC Sport, Harare

We have to get to the bottom of this
Susan Chibizhe, chairperson of the Zimbabwe Women's Soccer League

The Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) will hold an inquiry to investigate claims that female players have been sexually abused by their coaches.

There have been frequent allegations that players have been exploited in national team camps and at their clubs.

But matters came to a head earlier this month when striker Yesmore Mutero claimed that she contracted the HIV virus from a male national team coach.

Mutero alleged she was dropped from the national squad that travelled to South Africa for the ongoing African Women's Championship because she spoke to the authorities about her plight.

"We are very disturbed about the stories that we have heard and we will investigate them," said Zifa chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze.

"We would have started investigating a while back but we have been busy sorting out the team's trip to South Africa."

Zimbabwe, who started their African Women's Championship campign with a 1-1 draw against Ethiopia, lost their coach a week before the tournament began.

Shacky Tauro quit the post as a result of business commitments.

The commission of inquiry, which will begin sitting after the African championships, will be chaired by Rebecca Benza, the president of the Zimbabwe Women's Sports Foundation (ZWSF).

The ZWSF demanded for the investigation after allegations of sexual abuse were also made against coaches at club level.

"We have to get to the bottom of this," said Susan Chibizhe, the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Women's Soccer League.

A large number of Zimbabwe's female football players are below the age of 18.

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