The Malta Independent 30 November 2022, Wednesday
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Updated: MFA confirms Mangia’s suspension, orders internal inquiry; coach denies accusations

Wednesday, 28 September 2022, 21:50 Last update: about 2 months ago

The Malta Football Association has confirmed the suspension of national coach Devis Mangia while ordering an internal investigation into his behaviour.

Mangia was suspended Tuesday, hours before Malta played Israel, after what the MFA has said allegations of a breach of policy. It later emerged that a player had come forward with an accusation of sexual harassment by Mangia and, since then, a second player has also claimed similar aggravation, according to a Times of Malta report.

In a statement on Wednesday, the MFA said that its Executive Board convened for an urgent meeting on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the case concerning Devis Mangia, the Head Coach of the National Teams, who has been temporarily relieved of his duties in light of allegations of misconduct made by a national team player.

Bjorn Vassallo, the President of the Malta FA, gave a step-by-step account of the events that led the Association to temporarily suspend Mangia once the player reported the matter to Malta FA officials. 

The Malta FA President explained the course of action undertaken by the Association after speaking to the player who was immediately offered any support needed. The Executive Board members were briefed on the nature of the misconduct claims allegedly stemming from inappropriate conversation. The MFA statement did not divulge details.

Pre-employment and ongoing background checks

The background checks carried out by the Association before engaging the services of Mangia as Head Coach of the National Teams were explained in chronological order during the Executive Board meeting.

At the time, the only claim concerning Mangia was an unfounded media report in Italy going back to 2016. The Malta FA ascertained that, at no time, there had been any disciplinary, criminal or proceedings of any other nature against Mangia at any level prior to his appointment as Head Coach of the National Teams in December 2019. It was also confirmed that his coaching licence had always been recognised and renewed accordingly.

As part of the Association’s ‘Know Your Client’ protocol, introduced in 2017, the monitoring is ongoing and this applies to all coaching staff. In addition, the Association files a court application with the Court of Voluntary Jurisdiction on a yearly basis in accordance with Chapter 518 of the Laws of Malta (The Protection of Minors (Registration) Act).

Malta FA Pesident Bjorn Vassallo said: “It is of paramount importance that we explain the background checks undertaken by the Association prior to Mangia’s appointment. This detailed account shows that, contrary to speculation, the Malta FA was thorough in its efforts to assess the coach’s background based on official information provided by entities rather than relying on speculation.

“The fundamental point is that we have an obligation to explain everything in an open and transparent manner. We will also be doing everything in our power to protect the identity and integrity of the players concerned.”

Procedures in place

During Weednesday's meeting, the Executive Board ratified the decision to suspend Mangia temporarily while initiating the internal procedures.

The matter has been referred to the Association’s Safeguarding Officer to investigate the allegations made, gather information and compile a report about the case. The inquiry will commence immediately and the report will be submitted to the Safeguarding Board in accordance with a time table set by the Executive Board. The Safeguarding Board, led by Chairman Andrew Azzopardi, is responsible for taking decisions related to safeguarding investigations.

President Bjorn Vassallo informed the Executive Board that the Association will be keeping UEFA updated on the steps being taken.

The Executive Board resolved that it will leave no stone unturned in its pursuit of facts and reiterated its full trust in the Association’s structures and processes. To this effect, the Association is always open to any form of whistleblowing and all reports of this nature are treated very seriously.

Coach reacts

In comments to Italian media, reported by calciomercato.com, Mangia denied the accusations made against him.

“In relation to the news published on national media, it is my duty to clarify that I have never, now or in the past, shown harmful conduct towards the personal or sexual dignity of any person, not least a football player or any other member of the federation,” the report said.

“This is all unfounded and false news that seriously damages my personal dignity and my professional reputation.”

“Contrary to what has been published by the media, this kind of behaviour has never been disputed by the federation itself.”

The former Italy U-21 coach threatened legal action against those who continue to publish or spread such news.

“Should such false accusations continue to be published, I reserve the right to file a complaint over defamatory conduct,” Mangia said.

“In any case, all further communication will be conducted by the Maltese federation, in respect of fairness of our professional relationship.”

 

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