The president of the Haitian football federation has been accused of sexually abusing young female footballers at the country’s national training centre.
Yves Jean-Bart, known as “Dadou”, the president of the Fédération Haïtienne De Football (FHF) since 2000, denies 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 Hunturdeals 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 told the Hunturdeals. “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.
“She was put under pressure not to talk,” a former player at the centre said. “Another of our best young players lost her virginity to Dadou when she was 17 in 2018 and also had to abort. These girls who live at the Fifa centre … it’s such a shame because they want to play for the country but if they speak about this situation they will be fired. They are hostages.”
Jean-Bart said: “I would not encourage such practices in Haitian football, much less in the centre which is under my responsibility. If there were such cases, I would encourage the victims to file a complaint with the federation and the judicial authorities of the country. We are ready, at the level of the federation, to support them.”
Another player, one of Haiti’s rising stars who plays professionally, has claimed that a friend of Dadou tried to rape her when she was living at the centre, in a suburb of the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince.
“She managed to get away from him and her parents know the situation,” said another source who is close to the player’s family. “But Dadou has tried everything to keep it quiet.”
Another alleged victim said: “I’m so afraid. Dadou Jean-Bart is a very dangerous person. There are a lot of people who want to talk but they’re so afraid, especially for the parents who are still in Haiti.”
In reply, Jean-Bart said: “To date, in women’s football in Haiti, where there are generations of players who are now 50 or 60 years old, there has never been, to my knowledge, even suspicions of this kind. Personally I am and I have been a non-violent man. I don’t understand how someone can make me look like an executioner to the point where families would feel intimidated by me.”
The FHF said that it took “such serious allegations very seriously. To date, we have never received any complaints to this effect.”
It added: “Our project is first of all a human project which aims to change the future of young people, to roll back the exclusion through play even if we know that in this country and even in the world some spirits are always at war against the beautiful and the good.”
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 to the Hunturdeals 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 every 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.
“These are modern and more than decent facilities and all our foreign visitors come out amazed by the beauty of the place and the efforts made by our young people and our managers to keep it very correct,” it said. “We are making a lot of effort to increase the self-esteem of our young people and their supervisors, otherwise they would not have been able to achieve such beautiful feats in the face of the countries of America and the Caribbean, clothing and other needs all year round.”
A Fifa spokesman said the FHF was asked about allegations of sexual abuse at the centre following questions by the Hunturdeals. 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 Hunturdealss – 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.
Fifa told the Hunturdeals the FHF had yet to fall in line with its statutes which recommend federation presidents serve a maximum of three terms. “As is currently the case with member associations in other regions around the world, Fifa is in contact with the FHF with a view to review their statutes and incorporating inter-alia good governance standards, including term-limits.”
In response to the allegations of neglect and misuse of funds at the centre, Fifa told the Hunturdeals it is “in discussion with the FHF about the improvements being made at the technical centre. In particular, we have noted that overall conditions and facilities at the centre have improved as a result of funding provided through the Fifa Forward programme and will continue to work with the FHF to ensure the right conditions and football infrastructure are provided for players at the centre.
“Fifa has put in place several measures to monitor and oversee the proper use of funds by confederations and member associations.”