By Jonathan Crane, Barbara Mohr
The head of Haitian football, Yves Jean-Bart, has wielded huge power for decades. Despite sexual abuse claims, an admission he has a child with a former player and a FIFA investigation, he denies any wrongdoing.
Female footballers and coaches are being silenced following allegations of sexual abuse inside Haiti’s football federation (FHF), and against its longtime president, Yves ‘Dadou’ Jean-Bart.
One Haitian coach, who has experienced the international setup first hand, gave testimony to DW about Jean-Bart. But when contacted later for further comment, the coach changed his story, saying the abuse had never happened to the players he was dealing with.
Pascale Solages, a leading women’s rights activist in Haiti, says victims often choose to stay quiet out of shame, especially when the accused is in a position of authority.
“Jean-Bart is a man of power, so he can intimidate victims, he can intimidate families, he can intimidate institutions,” she said. “If the person is very influential, is corrupt and has a lot of money, it becomes even harder for the woman to get justice.”
DW has talked to multiple sources to independently verify allegations first brought to light by British newspaper The Guardian at the end of last month.
One overseas club said it was offering support to a former player, adding: “We are very concerned about the situation. We consider these allegations to be deeply disturbing.”
The Guardian detailed how Jean-Bart forced young female players at the country’s national training center to have sex with him, adding that at least two of the girls had to have abortions. It also said victims and their families had received death threats for revealing the abuse. DW requested an interview with Jean-Bart but didn’t receive a response.
Police in Haiti say they are pushing forward with an investigation. Jean-Bart has vehemently denied the allegations and decried them as a plot to oust him from the federation, which has given him its backing.
Meanwhile, FIFA, world football’s governing body, has temporarily suspended Jean-Bart from his football duties for 90 days while its ethics committee looks into the case. It has also set up an ad hoc group to gather evidence on the ground.
As per the FHF’s rules, the federation’s longest-serving vice president, Joseph Varieno Saint-Fleur, has been selected to replace Jean-Bart on an acting basis. Continue reading