Gabon’s FA suspends leading football coach accused of raping boys

  • Provisional suspension for Patrick Assoumou Eyi amid inquiries
  • Government plans investigation into sexual abuse claims

Patrick Assoumou Eyi, the long-serving coach in Gabon who is facing claims he raped, groomed and exploited young players, has been provisionally suspended by the country’s football association pending an investigation.

Gabon’s president, Ali Bongo, described the claims made by several alleged victims to the Guardian on Thursday as “a very serious matter”, with the government also announcing that it will hold a judicial investigation into possible sexual abuse against children and young people in all sports in the country.

Eyi – known as “Capello” – is accused of abusing boys in his previous role as the head coach of Gabon’s under-17 team and in his current role as the technical director for La Ligue de l’Estuaire. He has yet to respond directly to questions from the Guardian.

A statement from Franck Nguema, Gabon’s sports and youth minister, on Friday confirmed that the Gabonese Football Federation (Fegafoot) had provisionally banned Eyi “from all football activities”, with the case set to be investigated by its ethics committee. Eyi has also been suspended from his post as technical director.

Nguema’s statement made reference to the Guardian’s story, in which several unnamed alleged victims said they had not reported Eyi to police in Gabon because they did not have confidence in the justice system.

“For the president of the republic, head of state, Mr Ali Bongo Ondimba, ‘this is a very serious matter and an unacceptable one,’” he said. “We will also open a judicial investigation in the national football community, for possible sexual abuse, having been committed against children and young people, of all kinds (boys and girls), in order to identify the possible perpetrators and actors of these heinous crimes.

“In addition, I asked my colleague from justice to extend the investigation to all national sports federations, because now it is a question of eradicating all potential sexual predators from the world of national sport.”

Several more alleged victims have come forward to claim they were abused by Eyi since the Guardian’s article was published. The players’ union Fifpro has registered a complaint with Fifa over the accusations.

A Fegafoot statement said that the decision to suspend Eyi had been taken after a meeting of its executive committee on Thursday “to coldly analyse the situation”.

  • Download the Guardian app from the iOS App Store on iPhone or the Google Play store on Android by searching for 'The Guardian'.
  • If you already have the Guardian app, make sure you’re on the most recent version.
  • In the Guardian app, tap the Menu button at the bottom right, then go to Settings (the gear icon), then Notifications.
  • Turn on sport notifications.

“In view of the seriousness of the facts, the executive committee has decided to suspend Mr Assoumou Eyi Patrick as a precautionary measure from all football-related activities,” it said. “In the process, the general secretary contacted the ethics commission for the opening of an investigation.”

Nguema said any sexual abuse of children in Gabonsese sport would “not go unpunished, and will be severely punished by law”.


Ed Aarons and Romain Molina

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Patrick Assoumou Eyi, leading football coach in Gabon, accused of raping boys
Allegations submitted to Fifa by the players union Fifpro after claims made against the former coach of the national under-17 team

Exclusive by Romain Molina and Ed Aarons

16, Dec, 2021 @10:00 AM

Article image
Gabonese football coach arrested on suspicion of sexual abuse
Coach arrested days after suspension by football federation

Ed Aarons and Romain Molina

21, Dec, 2021 @6:30 PM

Article image
Gabon’s former Under-17 football coach facing sexual abuse charges
Gabon’s former Under-17 coach Patrick Assoumou Eyi is facing charges of raping minors and sexual assault that could lead to a prison sentence of up to 30 years, as the country’s government continues to investigate revelations made by the Guardian

Ed Aarons and Romain Molina

02, Jan, 2022 @1:48 PM

Article image
Fifa opens investigation into allegations of sexual abuse in Gabonese football
Fifa has confirmed that its independent ethics committee has opened an investigation into allegations of widespread sexual abuse in Gabonese football

Ed Aarons and Romain Molina

10, Jan, 2022 @6:33 PM

Article image
Serge Mombo arrested over sexual abuse of young players in Gabon
Serge Mombo, a leading football official in Gabon, has been arrested after being accused of sexually abusing young players and demanding sex as a condition of them securing places in national teams, the Guardian understands

Ed Aarons and Romain Molina

25, Jan, 2022 @10:38 PM

Article image
Political unrest in Gabon casts shadow over 2017 Africa Cup of Nations draw | Jonathan Wilson
Conflict over August’s presidential elections has thrown the tournament into doubt before the 16 qualifiers learn their fate in Libreville

Jonathan Wilson

18, Oct, 2016 @11:02 AM

Article image
President of Gabon league accused of sexually abusing young footballers
Serge Mombo is alleged to have demanded sex from players seeking places in the national team, but says accusers are ‘lying to dirty my image’

Exclusive by Romain Molina and Ed Aarons

06, Jan, 2022 @5:02 PM

Article image
‘Explaining this is not easy’: how sexual abuse allegations rocked football in Gabon
More than 30 players allege they have been victims of sexual abuse in Gabon’s football system since the early 1990s

Ed Aarons and Romain Molina

13, Apr, 2022 @6:16 PM

Article image
Afcon roundup: Morocco into last 16, Ghana in trouble after heated draw
Morocco booked their place in the Africa Cup of Nations knockouts while Ghana were angered by Gabon’s late equaliser

Reuters and Guardian sport

14, Jan, 2022 @9:36 PM

Article image
Afcon 2017: our writers select their highs and lows from the tournament
From the standout match, player and goal through to personal highlights, disappointments and more, here is the verdict on the contest in Gabon

Nick Ames, Usher Komugisha and Jonathan Wilson

06, Feb, 2017 @2:05 PM