The head coach of Malta’s national football team Devis Mangia has been suspended after a player reported him over alleged sexual misconduct.
Sources said the Malta Football Association had received a report about the alleged sexual misconduct towards the national team player on Sunday.
Repeated attempts to reach out to the Italian coach for a reaction on Tuesday were unsuccessful. When contacted, the player involved said he would not be commenting for the time being and any questions should be sent to the MFA.
The report and subsequent suspension of Mangia comes as the national team is due to play an international friendly at Ta' Qali stadium on Tuesday.
Mangia was appointed national team head coach since 2019 and has overseen a rare positive streak in Malta's national football team performances, lifting the team from 184th in the FIFA World Rankings to its current position of 169.
The Italian signed a contract until December 2023.
In a statement, the MFA did not weigh into the report.
Instead, it said that it had “temporarily relieved” the coach of his duties following a report it received about an alleged breach of its policies.
The Malta FA did not give any details of the alleged breaches by Mangia but said that the Italian coach had assured it of his full availability for the facts of the matter to be established.
Davide Mazzotta, the Malta assistant coach, will be in charge of the team when it plays Israel on Tuesday.
MFA sources said that an independent disciplinary board will be set up to look into the matter and give Mangia a chance to defend himself. They said that the report was being taken "very seriously".
Meanwhile, MFA sources confirmed that they had also looked into allegations of sexual misconduct in Romania by Mangia before he was appointed national team head coach.
However, they said that after a thorough review they were confident there was no evidence of wrongdoing at the time.
Mangia had faced accusations of having an inappropriate relationship with a player when he coached the Romanian side, University of Craiova.
The accusations were made by another former coach, Victor Pițurcă, who said Mangia had made advances toward a player.