Port-au-Prince (AFP)

The juvenile protection brigade of the Haitian judicial police has opened an investigation into the accusations of rape of young players targeting the president of the national football federation (FHF), Yves Jean-Bart, who refutes these allegations.

"The only way to stop this scandal is to (...) bring out the truth" reacted Yves Jean-Bart during an interview by telephone with AFP.

In a survey published last week, the British newspaper The Guardian claims that young players living at the national technical center have been raped or sexually assaulted in the past five years.

Witnesses to the pressure to remain silent, presumed victims reveal in daily life, on condition of anonymity, that at least two underage players allegedly aborted following rapes committed by Mr. Jean-Bart in the sports complex, located in outskirts of Port-au-Prince.

The feminist organizations Sofa and Kay Fanm issued a press release to support the victims.

"These girls are exposed to sexual predators and receive no protection from the state or other officials. In one of the videos circulating, we can see Mr. Jean-Bart touching a young girl without being embarrassed" , they denounce.

On a video viewed by AFP, we see a young player and the president of the FHF sitting side by side on a sofa during an interview. Yves-Jean Bart keeps his hand on the teenager's shoulder during the more than seven minutes of the interview.

"When we look for pretexts, compromising images, we dig up interviews" protested Yves Jean-Bart.

According to him, the video, filmed three years earlier at his request, was intended to inform the public of the teenager's success in an internship with Olympique Lyonnais.

"It is an uninteresting and meaningless gesture that is made when you have a paternal affection. (...) Only an athlete can understand that" he commented.

Yves Jean-Bart is invited by the government commissioner (equivalent of the prosecutor) to appear in court on Thursday.

"There is only one big scandal but no victims, no complaints, no places, no report, no constitution of facts" commented Mr. Jean-Bart, who has directed the FHF for 20 years.

Pascale Solages, feminist activist, founder of the organization Négès Mawon, explains that in Haiti "the families of the victims and the population also often get together because staying in silence is like staying safe."

© 2020 AFP