Fifa yet to act on investigator’s advice to suspend president of Gabon’s FA

Photograph: Fegafoot

Fifa has yet to act on an independent investigator’s recommendation in November that the president of the Gabonese football association (Fegafoot) should be immediately suspended, the Guardian can reveal.

Pierre-Alain Mounguengui is still awaiting trial in Gabon after previously spending almost six months in police custody. He could face up to three years in prison if found guilty of not reporting to Gabon’s authorities alleged sexual abuse in the country by a number of coaches, after allegations first made in the Guardian. There is no suggestion Mounguengui – who was re-elected as Fegafoot’s president for a third term in 2022 – has been accused of sexual abuse himself. He has not commented on the charges.

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A month after Mounguengui’s re-election, Fifa opened formal proceedings against the former Gabon under-17 coach Patrick Assoumou Eyi – known as Capello – and three other coaches as part of its investigation into allegations of widespread sexual abuse. Eyi later admitted charges of raping, grooming and exploiting young players and remains in prison awaiting sentencing.

It is understood that last summer Fifa’s Ethics Committee appointed an experienced independent investigator and his team to gather evidence for the case. Their report was submitted in November after hearing from whistleblowers and witnesses of sexual abuse, including former Gabon youth and senior internationals. It recommended that Mounguengui be suspended immediately pending further investigations.

That has yet to be acted upon, with Mounguengui currently at the Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast, having been elected as a member of the Confederation of African Football’s executive committee in June. According to Fifa’s child safeguarding policy, “suspending a staff member from his/her duties while an external investigation takes place should be standard practice”.

A Fifa spokesperson did not deny that the investigator’s report had recommended Mounguengui’s suspension and said it was continuing to investigate the case. “Since the matter is ongoing, we strongly reject any claim that Fifa is not acting upon allegations or information it has received so far in relation to this case,” he said. “We would like to reiterate that Fifa will continue to pursue any wrongdoing while supporting its member association in building capacities to prevent future cases.”

A spokesperson from international players’ union Fifpro said it had “grave concerns about Mr Mounguengui’s continued involvement with the Gabonese FA, including his presence at official matches and tournaments”.

“It is important to note that Mr Mounguengui was held in prison facing allegations he failed to act despite reports of widespread and systemic sexual abuse,” he said. “This abuse may have affected dozens, if not hundreds, of young men over decades. We reiterate the importance, both for the victims and future generations of players, that the perpetrators are held accountable.”


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