Serge Mombo arrested over sexual abuse of young players in Gabon

·2-min read
  • Leading official in Gabon has denied claims against him

  • Mombo arrested after returning from Africa Cup of Nations

Serge Mombo, a leading football official in Gabon, has been arrested after being accused of sexually abusing young players and demanding sex as a condition of them securing places in national teams, the Guardian understands.

Mombo, was re-elected as president of La Ligue de l’Estuaire, Gabon’s senior football league, in June 2021 and served as the kit man for Gabon’s senior men’s team at the African Cup of Nations in Cameroon. Mombo, a former policeman and referee, has denied the abuse claims, made by alleged victims team and witnesses to the Guardian earlier this month.

It is understood that authorities in Gabon were monitoring him during the tournament and Mombo was arrested when the team returned home to Léon Mba airport in Libreville on Tuesday night, two days after being eliminated by Burkina Faso on penalties in the last-16.

Related: President of Gabon league accused of sexually abusing young footballers

He also denied claims he provided a Gabonese football coach, Patrick Assoumou Eyi, known as “Capello”, with boys to sexually abuse. Eyi, like Mombo a senior figure in the Gabonese football federation Fegafoot, is facing charges of raping minors and sexual assault after claims by alleged victims were reported by the Guardian. Eyi has denied the claims. Two other coaches in Gabon are also facing charges. Mombo said his accusers were “lying to try to dirty my image.”

On 10 January, Fifa confirmed its independent ethics committee has opened an investigation into allegations of widespread sexual abuse in Gabonese football. Gabon’s president, Ali Bongo, has described the allegations of widespread sexual abuse as “a very serious matter”, with the government also announcing that it will hold a judicial investigation into possible sexual abuse against children and young people in all sports in the country.

Two tennis coaches – Jean Komi Vivon and Dandhy Poaty – were also arrested this week on suspicion of alleged sexual abuse on minors and are awaiting charges.

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