In a nearly 30-minute documentary entitled “Predators on the Field”, BBC Africa highlights the vast pedophilia scandal which is shaking Gabonese football.
Published on : Modified :
It all started with Perfect Ndong, star player of the national team in the 90s with Gabon, who risked everything to reveal one of the biggest scandals in African football.
In 2019, after 20 years outside the country, he decided to return to Gabon and create a football school. Upon his return, he discovered that sexual abuse of young players was commonplace. “ I could only denounce him, I couldn’t keep him to myself, because I also have children “, he said in the BBC documentary. Ndong claims to have alerted all sporting and political authorities in the country. “ Nobody wanted to listen to me », Says the former Petrosport player. He then turned to local media, without success.
It was in December 2021 that everything changed, when the British daily The Guardian cites in an investigation several Gabonese football personalities involved in a system of pedophilia in place for several decades.
Since then, one of the coaches involved, Patrick Assoumou Eyi, known as “Capello”, has been arrested and is awaiting trial. “ Everyone adored him, saw him as a god », reports Perfect Ndong. “Capello” admitted the facts. The other arrested coaches deny the accusations against them. Following the first revelations, the president of the Gabonese Football Federation (Fegafoot), Pierre Alain Mounguenguiwas arrested by the Gabonese authorities for “failure to report crimes of pedophilia » then incarcerated. He is still in office today and a member of the executive committee of the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
A ” culture of sexual abuse rooted in Gabonese football »
Around thirty players interviewed by the authors of the documentary speak of a “ culture of sexual abuse rooted in Gabonese football “. None wanted to testify openly; their testimonies were taken up by actors. “ They came into our rooms in the middle of the night, says an alleged victim. I saw other boys being taken away. They did not have a choice. […] These boys were spilling blood. In the toilets and showers we could see the blood coming out of their butts. They couldn’t play in the next game, they couldn’t run anymore. »
Another testimony: “ I was so shocked that I couldn’t find the words to speak. All I had left were the tears. I saw how they started to rape my friend. I looked into his eyes, and he looked at me like he was saying : “Let’s go with them, let’s get it over with.” I got up and wanted to leave, but the door was locked. They grabbed me and threw me to the ground. I tried to push them away, but they forced me to masturbate them and perform oral sex on them. I told them I couldn’t do it. I cried and screamed, until they were done with my friend. They let him go and told me I would never be selected again. And that if I dared to talk about what happened, my family would be killed. »
“ When I think about what happened, I want to vomit. I was harassed, abused, raped », Explains one of the players abused as a child. “ In Gabon, football and pedophilia go hand in hand », summarizes another witness. Fifpro, which brings together professional footballers’ unions, denounces the laxity of CAF and Fifa in this matter. One of the victims who no longer lives in Gabon affirms that those who are there “ cannot testify ” because ” their lives are in danger “. “ I know so many people who have been abused, raped, and who will never testify “, he says.