News 22nd May 2020

Report contradicts FIFA’s account of Haitian sexual abuse allegations

A Report by Haiti’s National Human Rights Defence Network (RNDDH) appears to contradict FIFA’s claim that it first became aware of allegations of sexual abuse against Yves Jean-Bart, President of the Haiti Football Federation (FHF) through a 30 April article in The Guardian. ‘FIFA only learnt about sexual abuse claims concerning Mr Jean-Bart through the article published in The Guardian on 30 April’, wrote a FIFA spokesperson in an email to The Sports Integrity Initiative on 14 May. ‘The very serious allegations published by The Guardian have been handed over to FIFA’s independent Ethics Committee, for it to look into the matter’.

In a 2 May statement (below), Jean-Bart claimed that he became aware of the allegations against him on 10 March, and informed the RNDDH and the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF). The Sports Integrity Initiative asked both bodies if this was accurate, but didn’t receive a response. Jean-Bart denies the allegations.

A 21 May Report (PDF, in French, below) produced by the RNDDH contains the 10 March letter  received by the RNDDH from Carlo Marcelin, Secretary General of the FHF. It is copied to Fatma Samoura, Secretary General of FIFA and to Victor Montagliani, President of CONCACAF. The Report also contains accounts from journalists claiming that FIFA was informed prior to The Guardian’s article. 

‘A French journalist choosing to destroy the health of our football is attaching our association and his latest target is Camp Nou [the Academy concerned], and by making it out to be a den of sexual abuse, is attacking one of the sporting flagships of our country’, reads Marcelin’s letter. ‘Knowing that disinformation can only be fought with information and, above all in order to reassure parents, our backers, the football family, the national community in general and that for us, as it is for FIFA, we have zero tolerance on this theme, we decided to contact your institution […] to open an investigation into our structures to shed light on the truth’.

Although four female footballers from the Camp Nou interviewed by the RNDDH claim that they were not sexually abused, journalists told the RNDDH that ‘numerous’ survivors are currently unable to testify. Some of the survivors of the alleged sexual abuse told The Guardian that they had received death threats. In its 2 May statement above, the FHF demanded an ‘identity and a face’ for Jean-Bart’s accusers. 

It is understood that despite the allegations against him and the alleged death threats, Yves-Bart hasn’t been provisionally suspended. Article 84 of the FIFA Code of Ethics (see right) allows the imposition of ‘provisional sanctions in order to ensure that investigation proceedings are not interfered with’. In a detailed statement, Human Rights Watch has urged FIFA to use this power to suspend Yves-Bart. 

Journalists told the RNDDH that they were ‘not surprised’ by the allegations against Jean-Bart, as rumours had been circulating for some time. A football club official said that Jean-Bart had fathered the child of one former player; another warned that players at the Camp Nou were ‘at risk of being victims of all kinds of abuse, not only sexual’. The Report concludes that Yves-Bart should step aside and allow Haitian authorities to investigate.

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