Avram Grant: Zambia national team head coach dismisses bias allegations by Fashion Sakala


Avram Grant: Zambia national team head coach dismisses bias allegations by Fashion Sakala

Festus Chuma 18:07 - 27.05.2024

Former Chelsea coach Avram Grant has refuted claims of biased Zambia squad selection made by forward Fashion Sakala amidst FAZ investigation.

Zambia national team head coach Avram Grant has emphatically dismissed allegations of bias in his squad selection process, following accusations from forward Fashion Sakala. 

The former Chelsea head coach was accused by Sakala of excluding him from the Chipolopolo setup due to his refusal to sign with Grant's agent, Nir Karin.

Fashion Sakala, currently playing for Al-Fahya, has been absent from the national team since his disappointing performance at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament in January. 

In response to these allegations, Grant described Sakala's claims as "total lies" and firmly defended his professional integrity.

"This October, it will be 51 years since I started coaching, and all my decisions are completely professional," Grant stated. 

"Part of my job is to choose players, and I have never faced a reaction like this in my life."

Grant elaborated on the circumstances that led to Sakala's exclusion, explaining that it stemmed from his attitude rather than any external pressures.

"Everything started after the Africa Cup of Nations matches against Morocco when I preferred Lameck Banda over him in one of the matches because I didn't like his attitude," Grant noted. 

"Before the other tournament in Malawi, I sent messages to five players that I was not happy with their performance. I didn't say he was a bad player."

Grant continued, detailing his interaction with Sakala. 

"I thought he would call and ask what he needed to do better, maybe look at the video. His answer was, 'Who are you to speak to me like this? You are not the football boss in Zambia.' He even put a threat on me if I text him again," the coach added.

Such behavior, Grant emphasized, was unacceptable.

 "I cannot allow such behavior of superstars for the harmony of the team, and I could not pick him again. Nobody has ever accused me like this. Let me be clear, each word of his is a complete lie. I have never told any player in my career to sign with any agent," the experienced gaffer stressed.

In response to these allegations, the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) launched an inquiry into Grant's conduct. FAZ issued a statement stressing the importance of a thorough investigation. 

"Given the gravity of the allegations, FAZ will conduct its own internal investigations but also encourage all interested parties to report these matters to relevant judicial bodies, in this case, the Ethics Committee," the statement read.

FAZ General Secretary Reuben Kamanga echoed the need for a comprehensive investigation.

 "The Ethics Committee, under its mandate as provided by Article 59 of the FAZ constitution, will conduct its investigations," Kamanga stated. 

"Matters of this nature require thorough investigations and therefore members of the public and all relevant stakeholders are encouraged to bring forth evidence to put this matter to bed."

Kamanga assured that FAZ would provide information on the next steps once the investigation progresses.

Grant was appointed as the Zambia national team coach in December 2022, signing a two-year contract. 

His extensive coaching resume includes a notable tenure at Chelsea, where he guided the team to the 2008 UEFA Champions League final, only to lose to Manchester United in a dramatic penalty shootout. 

Additionally, Grant managed the Ghana national team from December 2014 to February 2017, leading them to the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations finals and the 2017 semi-finals.

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