Lausanne, Switzerland (AFP) – Haiti’s football federation president Yves Jean-Bart was banned for life by FIFA and fined over a million dollars on Friday.
The 73-year-old Jean-Bart was found guilty by FIFA of having abused his position and having sexually harassed and abused various female players, including minors, the independent Ethics Committee of world football’s governing body ruled.
Jean-Bart, who earlier Friday was cleared by the Haitian justice system, reacted via a statement calling FIFA’s decision “a travesty of justice and a purely political move”. He said the body had “failed to review actual evidence”.
In making public its decision to dismiss the case against Jean-Bart, the Haitian authorities said in a five-page document that “no evidence and no (victim’s) name were found”.
In contrast, FIFA’s Ethics Committee said it had banned Jean-Bart for life “from all football-related activities (administrative, sports or any other) at both national and international level.”
He was fined one million Swiss francs ($1.1m; 925,000 euros).
It said the investigation concerned “acts of systematic sexual abuse against female football players between 2014 and 2020” and said proceedings were still pending into other officals at the Haitian federation.
FIFA’s ruling was hailed by global players’ union FIFPro, which called it a “landmark decision made possible by the extraordinary courage of the survivors, victims and witnesses who came forward”.
“The lifetime ban of Jean-Bart can only be the start,” said FIFPro general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann.
“We will continue to support FIFA’s investigations to ensure all those who abused their positions in Haiti are held to account.”
The investigation followed a report in British newspaper The Guardian in April that Jean-Bart sexually abused young female footballers at the country’s national training centre.
The accusations led to the opening of the criminal investigation in Haiti, as well as the suspension of Jean-Bart by FIFA on May 25.
According to girls and former officials quoted by The Guardian in articles in April and August, Jean-Bart raped many underage players.
FIFA suspended two other Haitian football officials, Nella Joseph, supervisor of girls’ football at the training centre, and Wilner Etienne, technical director of the Haitian football federation.