September 2 – World players union Fifpro and alleged sexual abuse victims have criticised Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Patrice Motsepe for visiting Gabon FA president Pierre-Alain Mounguengui (pictured), who has been accused of covering up widespread sexual abuse.
Mounguengui is awaiting trial and could face up to three years in prison if found guilty of not reporting to Gabon’s authorities alleged sexual abuse in the domestic game, but that did not stop the Motsepe from visiting Mounguengui, re-elected for a third term, in the Gros Bouquet Central prison in Libreville during an official trip to Gabon this month.
He presented a pennant to Mounguengui that read ‘President Dr Patrice Motsepe to Mr Pierre Alain Mounguengui President Gabonese Football Federation. With our compliments’, according to The Guardian newspaper.
Motsepe also met with the country’s head of state Ali Bongo at the time and Mounguengui was among the major talking points between the pair.
In a statement, the South African said that they “spent time discussing a number of problems and challenges facing football in Gabon and Africa. The challenges in Gabonese football should be resolved in accordance with the Gabonese legal system and the CAF and FIFA articles and regulations”.
However, Fifpro and alleged victims have reacted with disbelief. The player union said that it was “astonished to learn of the latest efforts by football’s most senior representatives in Africa to intervene in an ongoing criminal prosecution.”
“We understand that CAF executives are not involved in the investigation in Gabon and therefore are not privy to the evidence collected by prosecutors. That CAF executives should again attempt to influence criminal proceedings is deeply concerning and shows a lack of respect and empathy for the victims and survivors. By acting in this manner, they are increasing the risks for the mental health and safety of victims and survivors, and endangering this group’s trust in the investigation.”
Alleged victims spoke of their “disgust and sadness”.
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