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FIFA files appeal to Swiss supreme court in Haiti abuse case

FIFA’s ethics committee barred Jean-Bart from playing football in November 2020 and fined him 1 million Swiss francs ($1.08 million).

FIFA has filed an appeal with the Swiss Federal Tribunal, challenging the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s (CAS) decision to overturn a life ban on Yves Jean-Bart, the former president of the Haiti soccer federation.

Jean-Bart was accused of multiple sexual offences against players in women’s and girls’ national teams.

Last month, CAS upheld an appeal by 75-year-old Jean-Bart, prompting FIFA to express its concerns about the decision.

According to a statement released by the international football authority, the CAS award contained “a number of very serious procedural and substantive flaws,” including the CAS panel’s failure to evaluate key evidence presented by FIFA.

FIFA has requested that the Swiss Federal Tribunal annul the sports court verdict and send the case back for a second hearing. The federal court is known to rarely overturn decisions, and can only review CAS verdicts on limited grounds, such as abuse of legal processes.

In November 2020, FIFA’s ethics committee banned the former official from football and imposed a fine of 1 million Swiss francs ($1.08 million) on him.

The published verdict detailed allegations that, during his 20-year tenure as Haiti federation president, Jean-Bart had raped underage girls and regularly engaged in sexual relationships with some players.

During his appeal to CAS one year ago, the former federation president’s legal team provided 21 witnesses who testified on his behalf, while FIFA presented one witness as a victim of his actions. There were allegations that witnesses in Haiti were threatened not to testify against him.

CAS acknowledged the seriousness of the alleged facts and the possibility that some witnesses might feel threatened.

The court stated that it took all possible steps to facilitate the search for evidence and the establishment of the facts, such as allowing witnesses to testify with a CAS chaperone from a secret location on encrypted calls with voices distorted to protect their identity.

Despite Jean-Bart’s expulsion from the sport, the Haiti national team achieved a historic milestone by qualifying for the Women’s World Cup for the first time.

The tournament will be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand in July and August.

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