FIFPRO is deeply disappointed to learn of CAS’s decision to reverse the lifetime ban of former Haitian Football Federation President Yves Jean-Bart following extensive allegations of serious sexual abuse.
From the outset of this case, FIFPRO has sought to support players who reported abuse. However, the players and whistle-blowers' journey has been incredibly precarious and challenging. This latest development raises further questions about football’s ability to offer effective remedy for serious human rights violations. As the hearing was not open, we will now await the full judgment of CAS, and FIFA’s decision on whether to appeal, before commenting in detail.
However, players are rightly seeking urgent answers to the following questions:
- In light of the serious, explicit and extensively documented threats received by those asked to give evidence, and CAS’s failure to offer basic anonymity protection such as voice distortion, how does it anticipate ever being able to procure adequate evidence to discipline powerful alleged perpetrators?
- Why has CAS chosen to refer to FIFPRO’s contribution as not being “sufficiently evidentiary” when FIFPRO was never tasked with or responsible for gathering evidence? The unusual reference to FIFPRO and HRW in the CAS media release raises more questions than answers and without the full judgement being published, FIFPRO is unable to understand the details of the Panel’s assessment.
- Why did CAS decide to publicise the decision the day before another hearing in a related abuse case, where victims and whistle-blowers have also received extensive threats, thus risking those witnesses withdrawing from the procedure?
FIFPRO’s priority remains the safety and wellbeing of players, and we will comment further only once we have seen the full judgment and are certain that such comments would not prejudice any further proceedings.
In the meantime, we will continue to advocate for sports justice bodies to safely and effectively hear cases as the current system is unable to provide sufficient guarantees for players and whistle-blowers to come forward and participate in proceedings without risk of retaliation.
FIFPRO will also continue to engage with FIFA’s efforts to set up an independent Safe Sport Entity, as this case yet again demonstrates that the existing mechanisms are not fit for purpose. Investigations and resolution in abuse cases require an expert, nuanced, trauma-informed and survivor-centred approach.
Only then will the necessary evidence be safely obtained without placing the burden of holding perpetrators to account onto victims and survivors. If football truly wants to discharge its governance obligations and remove abusers from within the game a lot must change, and it must change quickly.