Mr Bwalya, a 1988 African footballer of the year, slapped The Post senior sports reporter Augustine Mukoka yesterday at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTCC).

Mr Bwalya accused Mr Mukoka of writing “lies” about him, an allegation the reporter denies.

The scuffle happened at the security check point when Mr Mukoka was heading to the CTCC auditorium for a seminar while Bwalya, who is also president of the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ), was going the opposite direction.

Mr Bwalya and Mr Mukoka exchanged salutations after which the football icon stopped the reporter and started telling him to stop writing “lies” about him but Mr Mukoka insisted that the story he wrote about his banning of Zambian footballers from giving interviews to journalists was accurate.

In the presence

Thereafter, Mr Bwalya slapped Mr Mukoka in the presence of the South African Police and other journalists.  

“Kalusha slapped me and the spectacles dropped from my face but fortunately they didn’t break as I pushed him away. I asked him if he really wanted a physical challenge,” Mr Mukoka said. “Two female police officers manning the security check point and other onlookers approached the scene to separate us.”

FIFA described Kalusha’s behaviour as “unprofessional, unacceptable” and likely to dent the preparation for the South Africa 2010 World Cup.

FIFA’s Emmanuel Maradas asked Bwalya to apologise to Mr Mukoka and asked the reporter not to file an assault charge. Kalusha said, “I’m sorry to you Augustine.” However, Mr Mukoka is expected to press an assault charge against Kulasha in South Africa.