Basketball star reveals why she shocked the sport by having a FIST FIGHT with her teammate during side’s press conference at the World Cup in Sydney
- Salimatou Kourouma punched Kamite Elisabeth Dabou in the head after loss
- Elisabeth was seen trying to get her teammate in a headlock at press conference
- Kourouma has come clean on what caused the astonishing physical clash
A basketball star who sent shockwaves through the sport when she was filmed throwing punches at her teammate in wild scenes at the Women’s World Cup has blamed their clash on frustrations boiling over after the side’s recent run of losses.
The fist fight between Mali basketballers Salimatou Kourouma and Kamite Elisabeth Dabou broke out during a post-match press conference after the African nation’s 81-68 loss to Serbia on Monday, making headlines around the world.
Kourouma was seen throwing a flurry of punches at Dabou, who tried to wrestle her teammate and get her in a headlock in as she appeared to be trying to defend herself.
Salimatou Kourouma (with face obscured) punched Kamite Elisabeth (left, in green shorts) in the head while another player gave an interview during a press conference on Monday
Kourouma (pictured) blamed the fist fight on frustrations boiling over after Mali lost all five of their group matches at the World Cup
Now Kourouma has come clean on what prompted the astonishing display as the sport’s world governing body FIBA says the team could be punished for their brawl when it completes an investigation.
‘We were frustrated because of the loss, so we are here to apologise to the world of basketball, FIBA [and] the World Cup,’ she said on behalf of herself and Dabou.
Mali have not won any of their five group-stage games at the tournament, going down to Japan, Australia and France before the defeat at the hands of the Serbs.
The team’s coach, Joaquin Brizuela Carrion, is not planning on dropping either player despite the controversy.
‘These were two of our key players so even though it was a sad incident, it was more about that they wanted to play basketball,’ he said.
‘We wanted to play at a higher level, and they did show that today.’
Kamite Elisabeth Dabou (pictured, centre during the loss to Serbia) appeared to be trying to defend herself when she got Kourouma in a headlock during their clash
Mali’s coach, Joaquin Brizuela Carrion, said he doesn’t plan on dropping either Kourouma (pictured) or Dabou as a result of their fight
The governing body released the following statement on the fight: ‘Following the incident, FIBA has opened an investigation. Once the investigation is concluded, FIBA will decide on any applicable disciplinary measures.’
After the clash made headlines, star Malian men’s player Mahamadou Kante, who was good enough to enter the NBA draft, took to Instagram to defend the pair.
‘I see some people who allow themselves to say anything about what happened after the game against Serbia. I just want to say that it is normal that there are misunderstandings in a family because this group for me is a family,’ he wrote.
Prominent former women’s player Diana Gandega, who competed for Mali at the 2008 Olympics, also deflected criticism away from the punch-up.
In a series of lengthy posts on Instagram, Gandega bizarrely slammed the media for reporting on the fight, but not about the plight of the athletes, who she claims were forced to sleep in airports before the tournament.