The former Gabonese football coach of the national under-17 team, accused of allegedly sexually assaulting hundreds of children, has been arrested by police, a judicial source close to the case told BBC Sport on Monday.
Patrick Assoumou Eyi “was arrested on Monday in Ntoum”, about 40 km from the capital Libreville and “he is currently in the hands of the police and is being charged with pedophilia,” according to police.
“It’s been many years that we have been talking about it. I was still very young, I think when I was playing as a junior cadet, we were already talking about it, so it’s not a new case in the Gabonese sports circles.
On Friday, Sports Minister Franck Nguema said Patrick Assoumou Eyi “might have abused hundreds of young boys in the course of his duties”.
The case was first reported on Thursday by the British daily ‘The Guardian’.
“Indeed, it is worrying, it is disturbing and we wonder if we should continue to play football in our country. Well, we believe that besides these kinds of cases, there are still people who have good morals,” said Aurel Mabika, the father of a player of Bethel Academie.
The Gabonese football federation (Fégafoot) suspended Mr. Eyi from his duties on Friday and referred him to the ethics committee of the national football league for investigation.
“I have asked my colleague in charge of justice to extend the investigation to all national sports federations, because from n ow on, it is a question of eradicating from the national sports environment potential sexual predators,” said Franck Nguema, Sports Minister of Gabon.
The arrest came at a time when Gabon’s federation named its final squad of football players who will feature in the upcoming African Cup of Nations tournament in Gabon.