Gabon sexual abuse cases: Fifa hand out suspensions, formal proceedings begin

19:23 EAT 03/05/2022
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Two local administrators are under investigation by Gabonese authorities and might face severe punishments if found guilty of abuse

Fifa's Independent Ethics Committee have suspended Patrick Assoumou Eyi, Serge Mombo, and two other football coaches as they begin investigations into alleged sexual abuse in Gabonese football.

The individuals have been accused of raping, grooming and exploiting young players.

According to The Guardian, Eyi - who was the national U17 coach - has already admitted to committing the aforementioned crimes and is waiting to be sentenced.

Mombo, who is heading Gabon's top tier, is also under investigation alongside Orphee Mickala of Tout Puissant Akwembe FC and Moussavou FC's Triphel Mabicka.

Mombo allegedly sexually abused young players and demanded sex from players to secure places for them on the national team. The administrator has denied the claims.

The suspects have been banned from all football-related activities for 90 days by the world football governing body.

"These sanctions have been imposed in connection with ongoing criminal investigations concerning the above-mentioned Gabonese football officials, who were identified as having allegedly been involved in acts of systematic sexual abuse against minor players, as reported by local authorities and published in certain media outlets," read part of the statement from Fifa.

The Gabonese Football Federation President Pierre-Alain Mounguengui has also undergone pre-trial detention at the central prison in Libreville after being arrested in connection with the aforementioned crimes.

Despite not being directly connected with the crimes, the 64-year-old might serve up to three years in jail if found guilty of not reporting the offenses against the minors.

An initial statement from the international player's union, Fifpro, asked action to be taken to prevent sexual abuses from happening and urged the Gabon government to treat the case as 'a matter of urgency'.

"Our preliminary inquiries yielded consistent evidence from credible witnesses who all tell of an ongoing and long-embedded practice of forcing young players into sexual relationships as a pre-condition for footballing opportunities," Fifpro stated.

"If these allegations are indeed true, it is yet further evidence that football is being consistently exploited, across leagues and continents, as a forum for abusers to access, groom, extort and assault players. More must be done to prevent this horrific abuse and we call on football’s governing bodies to act as a matter of urgency."