Independent Report Into Historic Child Sex Abuse In Sport Is Published
Specialist lawyers representing survivors of abuse in football are calling for lessons to be learned after a review found ‘significant institutional failings’ by the Football Association meant it didn’t do enough to keep children safe.
A long-awaited report into the abuse of junior players between 1970 and 2005 has been published. It found the FA was ‘too slow’ to introduce safeguarding measures to protect children.
The FA, which commissioned the report, said there was “simply no excuse” for what happened adding the game failed to provide support for children.
Lawyers support survivors of sex abuse by coaches when a child
Irwin Mitchell’s specialist abuse lawyers have vast experience of providing advice and support to people affected by such issues, helping them access counselling and other forms of support.
The firm has supported a number of people abused by football coaches, including Barry Bennell, Eddie Heath and Bob Higgins, who coached youth team players at Crewe Alexandra, Chelsea and Southampton respectively.
Expert Opinion“Today’s long-awaited report makes for truly shocking reading. It contains a number of extremely worrying findings of how a number of young and aspiring footballers were not protected and some people abused their position of trust to carry out terrible crimes.
“Through our work supporting survivors of abuse we know many continue to be affected by what happened to them many years after the abuse stopped.
“While nothing will ever change what the survivors have been through, although harrowing, we welcome this report.
“The fundamental priority now has to be that lessons are learned to ensure such widespread abuse isn’t allowed to manifest itself again and that those affected are able to access the ongoing support and counselling they require as they attempt to come to terms with their experience.
“People affected by such issues deserve to have their voices heard.” Chris Hurlston - Senior Associate Solicitor
FA commissions report in child sex abuse in football
The report was commissioned by the FA in 2016 and led by Clive Sheldon QC.
According to the BBC the 710-page report found:
- Between the summer of 1995 and May 2000, and following high-profile child abuse convictions, the FA "could and should have done more to keep children safe".
- Football’s governing body did not put in place sufficient child protection measures at that time and "did not do enough" to keep children safe. “Child protection was not regarded as an urgent priority,” the report found
- The FA did not ban Barry Bennell and Bob Higgins, two of the most notorious abusers from football.
- At least 240 suspects and 692 survivors were identified. However, the actual level of abuse was likely to be higher because relatively few people reported abuse.
- Where abuse was reported to clubs, the responses of people in authority were "rarely competent or appropriate".
- The report also found that while several offenders knew each other no evidence was found that a paedophile ring existed in football.
- The report has made 13 recommendations including having qualified safeguarding officers at professional football clubs; for the FA to appoint a children’s safeguarding champion and for the association to widen sport checks at amateur clubs and publish an annual safeguarding report.
The FA said it would implement all 13 actions.
Find out more about our expertise in supporting survivors of abuse at our dedicated abuse and criminal injuries section. Alternatively to speak to an expert contact us or call 0370 1500 100.