A former coach for Gabon’s under-17 football team, Patrick Assoumou Eyi, sexually abused young players in his care, according to a report on Thursday in British daily The Guardian. President Ali Bongo Ondimba has asked for an investigation, the African nation’s sports minister said Friday, after Eyi was suspended by the Football Federation.
The president’s call for an inquiry came a day after British newspaper The Guardian reported on accusations that Patrick Assoumou Eyi raped, groomed and exploited underage athletes in his care.
Gabon’s President Ali Bongo Ondimba, who described the case as “very serious and unacceptable”, asked “the justice minister to open an investigation in the national football community over sexual abuses committed against children, girls and boys”, Sports Minister Franck Nguema said.
He had also requested a wider probe across all national sports federations to “eradicate potential sexual predators”.
The Gabonese Football Federation on Friday suspended Eyi and ordered the Ethics Commission of the National Football League to officially look into the matter, the federation’s spokesman Moussodji Ngoma said.
The Guardian reported that alleged victims said Eyi abused boys both as the head coach of the country’s youth side until 2017, and until recently as the technical director for La Ligue de l’Estuaire, the nation’s top league.
According to the newspaper, the alleged victims did not contact Gabon’s police for lack of trust in the justice system.
The coach did not respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.
Several more alleged victims have come forward to add to the accusations of abuse by Eyi, since The Guardian’s article, the British newspaper reported. A complaint was also registered with Fifa by the payers’ union Fifpro over the accusations.