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 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 told the Guardian. “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.”