The landmark decision was made possible by the extraordinary courage of the survivors, victims and witnesses who came forward to hold Jean-Bart to account. FIFPRO supported a number of players who faced abuse in Haiti and encountered overwhelming evidence from credible sources of extensive and systemic child sexual abuse in the Haitian Football Federation.
“This decision is testament to the strength and bravery of the players who risked so much to protect future generations of girls and boys”— by Jonas Baer-Hoffman, FIFPRO General Secretary
Jonas Baer-Hoffmann, General Secretary of FIFPRO, said: "This decision is testament to the strength and bravery of the players who risked so much to protect future generations of girls and boys, defending their dignity and their right to play football free from abuse. We stand shoulder to shoulder with them, and all players who fight for justice. The footballing world owes these men and women a great debt and one which we must repay not only by seeing justice done in Haiti, but also by ensuring systemic change at the highest level.”
FIFPRO’s investigations uncovered a structure of exploitation and the abuse of countless children and women over years. We received multiple allegations of senior individuals in the Haitian Football Federation intentionally and repeatedly misusing the power that their role in football afforded them to lure in young children, often from impoverished backgrounds, so they could groom, manipulate as well as sexually and emotionally abuse them. We want to acknowledge that without the work of investigative journalists these horrific abuses may never have come to light in the first place and that the cooperation with human rights organisations was critical to this decision today.
“We must now come together, analyse the structural reasons and governance shortcomings that permitted such abuse”— by Jonas Baer-Hoffman, FIFPRO General Secretary
Baer-Hoffmann continued: “The lifetime ban of Jean-Bart can only be the start. We will continue to support FIFA’s investigations to ensure all those who abused their positions in Haiti are held to account. And, more broadly, we will continue to work with players to defend their rights and their dignity. The footballing world can no longer feign shock and surprise when these cases arise: we must now come together, analyse the structural reasons and governance shortcomings that permitted such abuse. We need to develop victim and survivor-centred systems that detect and prevent abuse to keep those at the heart of the game safe.”
FIFA recently opened a consultation regarding an independent international body in sport to deal with growing concerns around abuse. FIFPRO will continue to ensure that the interests of players are represented in this process, and will continue to highlight the need for far greater resources, education, protection and support programmes as well as adjudicatory mechanisms to improve our sport’s ability to prevent and react to these horrific crimes.