Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Gabon football chief detained in sex abuse scandal

The head of Gabon’s football federation (Fegafoot) is to spend at least 10 more days in prison after being questioned about the country’s sexual abuse scandal.

Pierre-Alain Mounguengui was initially detained after being taken in for questioning by Gabonese authorities on 22 April.

Mounguengui, who has yet to comment after being accused of covering up the scandal, is currently in Libreville’s central prison.

Re-elected as Fegafoot president just 12 days ago, Mounguengui was placed on remand on Wednesday.

“Since the examining magistrate in charge of hearing Pierre-Alain Mounguengui regarding the matter of paedo-criminality dating back over 30 years in Gabonese football is on overseas duty, [Mounguengui] will learn his fate in 10 days,” a Fegafoot statement read.

“Through his wife, Mounguengui wanted to reassure his family and the national and international sporting community that he is doing well.”

BBC Sport Africa has previously sought comment from Mounguengui about the scandal, but without success.

Gabonese football has been rocked by allegations of widespread paedophilia within its community since The Guardian, a British newspaper, published reports in December.

In a statement in January, Gabon’s Sports Ministry said the alleged sexual abuse of minors in the country by multiple accused perpetrators could number “hundreds of alleged victims”.

Fifa investigation ongoing

Five members of Gabon’s football community have previously been arrested following allegations made against them of raping and sexually abusing minors.

Some have since been allowed to return home, such as Serge Mombo, the head of Gabon’s top league who was arrested on the tarmac of Libreville’s international airport moments after the national team returned from the Africa Cup of Nations in January.

Mombo has denied any wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, Patrick Eyi – a former coach of Gabon’s Under-17 team widely known as ‘Capello’ – is still behind bars as he awaits trial.

Eyi denies allegations he raped and sexually abused young footballers.

Earlier this year, world governing body Fifa and Fegafoot launched a joint investigation into the affair dubbed ‘Capello-gate’ in Gabon, even though some criticised the decision to allow Fegafoot to investigate itself as a conflict of interest.

Global players’ union Fifpro wrote to Fifa to complain that two of those arrested “were employed by Fegafoot and closely connected to powerful people in Gabonese football”.

BBC Sport Africa understands that Fifa is now in sole control of the investigation, with Fegafoot having been forced out.

According to its Code of Ethics, Fifa can only handle an investigation itself when a case “has not been investigated and judged … by the relevant judicial bodies of the association concerned”.