FIFA appeals to Swiss supreme court in Haiti abuse case
ZURICH (AP) — FIFA has appealed to Swiss federal judges after the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned a life ban for the former Haiti soccer federation president who was accused of multiple sexual offenses against players in women’s and girls’ national teams.
FIFA said Monday it filed a case at Switzerland’s supreme court to challenge the CAS ruling announced last month that upheld an appeal by 75-year-old Yves Jean-Bart.
“FIFA is concerned that this (CAS) award contains a number of very serious procedural and substantive flaws, including the CAS Panel’s failure to evaluate key pieces of evidence that were offered by FIFA,” soccer’s world body said in a statement.
FIFA said it asked the Swiss Federal Tribunal to annul the sports court verdict and refer the case back for a second hearing.
The federal court can review CAS decisions on limited grounds such as abuse of legal process. It rarely overturns verdicts.
FIFA’s ethics committee banned Jean-Bart from soccer in November 2020 and fined him 1 million Swiss francs ($1.08 million).
The published verdict detailed how FIFA ethics judges believed allegations that during 20 years as Haiti federation president Jean-Bart raped underage girls and habitually had sexual relationships with players.
When Jean-Bart’s appeal came to CAS one year ago, his legal team provided 21 witnesses who gave evidence on his behalf. FIFA produced one witness “as a victim of Yves Jean-Bart’s actions,” the sports court said about its verdict.
Witnesses in Haiti were alleged to have been threatened not to give evidence against Jean-Bart.
CAS said its panel of three judges was “fully aware of the seriousness of the alleged facts and the possibility that some witnesses might feel threatened.”
“It took all possible steps to facilitate the search for evidence and the establishment of the facts,” the court said, including the ability to testify accompanied by a CAS chaperone from a secret location on encrypted calls with voices distorted to protect identity.
While Jean-Bart was expelled from soccer, the Haiti national team progressed through qualifying for the Women’s World Cup. Last month Haiti sealed its first ever place at the women’s finals tournament, being co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand in July and August.
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