Disgraced ex-Haitian football president on a collision course with FIFA
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP):
Haiti's former football federation president, whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month, announced yesterday that he is reclaiming his position.
Yves Jean-Bart's defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association through November.
Jean-Bart's virtual news conference was held a week after Haiti's women beat Chile 2-1 in a historic match and qualified for the FIFA Women's World Cup finals for the first time, sparking jubilant celebration across the country.
Jean-Bart has denied allegations by the FIFA ethics committee, which issued a lifetime ban after finding him guilty in 2020 of sexually abusing women players as young as 14, keeping mistresses and preying upon girls from impoverished neighbourhoods.
The Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned the ban two weeks ago, ruling there were inconsistencies and inaccuracies in statements of alleged victims. The court also said that information provided by groups such as Human Rights Watch and world players' union FIFPRO were not "sufficiently evidentiary."
Jean-Bart, who was joined by several attorneys during the videoconference, also said he would file a lawsuit over alleged defamation against a freelance journalist who first reported the accusations against him in the British newspaper The Guardian.
"He is going on the offensive. Let it be known," his attorney Stanley Gaston said.
Gaston added that Jean-Bart is fighting cancer and that it's not clear when he would return to Haiti, noting that all business would be conducted virtually.
FIFA officials did not immediately return a message for comment. It is unclear whether FIFA has to let Jean-Bart resume leading the Haitian federation.
The emergency panel appointed by FIFA to lead Haiti's football association is led by a veteran football official from Cuba and is set to represent Haiti on March 16 in Rwanda when FIFA's 211 member federations have their annual meeting.