Three Gabonese football coaches have been accused of abusing hundreds of children.

Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba calls the case
Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba calls the case "very serious and unacceptable". (Ruben Sprich / Reuters)

FIFA has opened an internal investigation after three Gabonese football coaches were charged with sexually abusing hundreds of children.

"Given the seriousness of the allegations being made, we can confirm that FIFA's independent Ethics Committee has opened an investigation," a FIFA spokesperson told AFP on Tuesday.

Patrick Assoumou Eyi, a former coach of the West African country's national under-17s team, is among the accused.

He was arrested on December 20 and charged with raping minors.

Orphee Mickala and Triphel Mabicka, both club coaches, were also charged in the case.

All three face 30 years in jail if convicted.

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'Unacceptable'

Eyi, well known in Gabon's football world, goes by the nickname Capello.

His name was divulged by the British newspaper The Guardian, which reported on the probe in December.

Eyi was the coach of Gabon's under-17 national team until 2017 when he became the technical director of the football league of l'Estuaire, the province of the capital Libreville.

Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba called the case "very serious and unacceptable".

Also in December, well-known taekwondo coach Martin Avera was arrested on suspicion of paedophilia with "numerous victims".

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Source: AFP