FIFA Ethics Committee investigates Gabonese football officials charged with sexual abuse

FIFA Ethics Committee investigates Gabonese football officials charged with sexual abuse
Patrick Assoumou Eyi - known as “Capello” - former coach of Gabon's Under-17 boys team is facing charges of raping minors and sexual assault. Photograph: Handout

The FIFA Ethics Committee has opened formal proceedings against Gabonese football officials charged with sexual abuse.

It will be noted that in December 2021, the committee initiated preliminary investigation proceedings into allegations of sexual abuse allegedly committed by the former Gabon U-17 coach Patrick Assoumou Eyi, who is accused of raping and sexually abusing minors in Gabon.

Patrick Assoumou Eyi – known as “Capello” – faces up to 30 years in prison if found guilty of charges that could also include attempted rape on minors and endangering the life of another.

Serge Mombo, a leading football official in Gabon, has also been accused of sexually abusing young players and demanding sex as a condition of them securing places in national teams. Mombo was re-elected as president of La Ligue de l’Estuaire, Gabon’s senior football league, in June 2021. He is also set to serve as the kit man for Gabon’s senior men’s team at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon. Mombo, a former policeman, denied the abuse claims, made by alleged victims and witnesses to the Guardian.

Following a request by its chairman, and in accordance with the FIFA Code of Ethics, the investigatory chamber has expanded the scope of the aforementioned investigations by opening formal proceedings against Mr Assoumou Eyi, Serge Ahmed Mombo (President of La Ligue de Football de l’Estuaire), and two Gabonese coaches, Triphel Mabicka and Orphée Mickala.

The chairman of the investigatory chamber has also provisionally banned Messrs Mombo, Mabicka and Mickala from taking part in any football activity (administrative, sports or any other) at both national and international level for a period of 90 days.

Furthermore, the Disciplinary Committee has extended the decision passed by the Gabonese Football Association to provisionally suspend Mr Eyi from all football-related activities as from 17 December 2021 to have worldwide effect.

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.