Gabon: Hidden Horrors of Gabon Football Exposed

Authorities have been accused of ignoring sexual abuse in football, particularly in Gabon, for decades.

Witnesses recall painful experiences, revealing a string of abuse that dates back to the early 1990s.

One victim shared a traumatic episode from an Under-17 football camp where he and his friend were abused by older men, later facing threats against their lives if they spoke out, BBC Africa revealed.

Despite alerts from figures within Gabonese football, such as former international Parfait Ndong, authorities appeared to have turned a blind eye.

Ndong, after establishing his academy, claims to have alerted the highest authorities in Gabonese football, only to be ignored.

The scandal burst onto the international scene only after the UK’s Guardian newspaper reported on it in December 2021, leading to the arrest of four coaches.

The most prominent among them, Patrick Assoumou Eyi, known as “Capello”, was a celebrated figure, given the responsibility of preparing young talent for the nation.

Alexis, a former youth player who later played in Europe, suggests the problem goes up to the highest ranks. Witnesses estimate that thousands of boys might have been abused.

The Confederation of African Football (Caf) and Fifa have come under scrutiny for their handling of the situation.

Despite the seriousness of the allegations and calls for his resignation, head of Fegafoot Pierre-Alain Mounguengui remained in charge. He was arrested after being accused of failing to report crimes of paedophilia, but continued managing the federation from prison.

This state of affairs added to the many questions about Fifa’s policy on safeguarding children.

Fegafoot, Fifa, and Caf all deny the allegations, stressing that their investigations are ongoing and are in accordance with international standards.

Compiled by staff writer.