The president of the Haitian football federation Yves Jean-Bart has been accused of sexually abusing young female footballers at the country’s national training centre.
Jean-Bart, known as “Dadou”, has been the president of the Fédération Haïtienne De Football (FHF) since 2000, has denied the accusations that he coerced several players at the Centre Technique National in Croix-des-Bouquets into having sex. The alleged incidents are understood to have taken place within the last five years.
The claims have been made to the Guardian by numerous sources involved with the centre, including alleged victims and their families.
“There is a lady who works there who puts pressure on the girls to have sex with Dadou,” one alleged victim said. “He will see a nice girl who is attractive and he sends the lady to tell her that she is going to be thrown out of the centre. She starts crying and then the lady says: ‘The only way to resolve this is to speak to Dadou.’ At that moment, the young girl has no choice but to put up with the sexual abuse.”
Jean-Bart said there had “never been any complaint against the federation, nor against the staff engaged in our academy, nor against my person. This kind of practice of sexual abuse is almost impossible in our camp centre given the physical structures, the principles of education and continuous awareness that we have put in place.”
He said the allegations were “clearly a manoeuvre to destabilise the FHF, the character of the president and his family”.
According to sources in Haiti, several players who have now left the centre were coerced by Jean-Bart into having sex with him, including one who was forced to have an abortion.
Players usually move to the centre when they are teenagers, often rescued from a life on the streets. Funded by Fifa’s “Goal” programme to support football development, the centre was described as an opportunity to “level the international playing field” by the former Fifa vice-president Jack Warner when established in 2001. Haiti’s men’s team confounded expectations by reaching the semi-finals of last year’s Concacaf Gold Cup, but several witnesses have alleged the facility is in a dilapidated state after years of neglect despite having received up to $6m from Fifa’s “Forward” programme since 2016.
The last time I set foot there, I wanted to vomit,” said a coach who used to work there regularly. “It is despicable. Ten kids sleep in every room, there are no sheets, no clean toilets. It’s unimaginable. Where did the money go? The federation received millions, and they didn’t even buy sheets.”
The coach added: “This centre is a nightmare. Fifa’s inspectors came, we thought they were going to say something, but it didn’t happen. It’s impossible. How can they say nothing? The young people have no medical monitoring, they eat the same thing everything day – rice, pasta, bananas, chicken – drink water that you wouldn’t ever drink and in the meantime the FA officials have their own doctor and organise banquets. It is obscene.”
In response to the allegations of neglect, the FHF’s statement provided a list of new facilities that have been built at the centre, including an air-conditioned apartment block for senior players.
Fifa spokesman said the FHF was asked about allegations of sexual abuse at the centre. The Fifa spokesman said the questions were raised by a member of staff from the office of Véron Mosengo-Omba, Fifa’s chief member associations officer.
Fifa was in contact recently with the Haiti Football Association as part of a general round of contacts with Fifa’s 211 member associations in relation to the current coronavirus pandemic,” said the Fifa spokesman. “The purpose of the call was to inquire about the situation of Haitian football as a consequence of the pandemic. During the conversation, the Fifa representative raised concern about alleged sexual abuses in Haiti and pointed to the dedicated programme and toolkit for member associations – Fifa – designed to enhance child safeguarding standards within football.”
Jean-Bart received a message of congratulations from Fifa’s president, Gianni Infantino, when re-elected as president of the FHF for the sixth time in February. The Fiver: sign up and get our daily football email