Bri­tish cops widen abuse probe

More vic­tims come for­ward with ac­cu­sa­tions against youth coaches

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in Lon­don

Around 350 peo­ple have come for­ward to tell Bri­tish po­lice they were vic­tims of child sexual abuse by soc­cer coaches, deep­en­ing a scan­dal that has rocked the sport.

The scale of the abuse be­gan to emerge last week after a string of ex-play­ers, in­clud­ing Eng­land in­ter­na­tion­als, told of the crimes in­flicted upon them, in­clud­ing years of be­ing re­peat­edly raped.

The Na­tional Po­lice Chiefs’ Coun­cil said a “sig­nif­i­cant” num­ber of calls had been made to them after the play­ers spoke out.

An­nounc­ing the fig­ures, the NPCC said they were based on ex­ist­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions dat­ing back to 2014, as well as a new helpline set up by Bri­tish char­ity the Na­tional So­ci­ety for the Pre­ven­tion of Cru­elty to Chil­dren (NSPCC).

The NSPCC said the helpline re­ceived 860 calls in its first week, en­abling it to re­fer 60 cases to po­lice or so­cial ser­vices within 72 hours of be­ing launched.

That was more than triple the num­ber of re­fer­rals made in the first three days of the helpline set up for vic­tims of Jimmy Sav­ile, a se­rial pe­dophile and for­mer BBC tele­vi­sion com­men­ta­tor.

“We are work­ing closely with the Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion to en­sure the re­sponse to this sig­nif­i­cant and grow­ing num­ber of vic­tims, at all lev­els of foot­ball, is co-or­di­nated ef­fec­tively,” said chief con­sta­ble Si­mon Bailey, the NPCC’s lead of­fi­cer for child pro­tec­tion.

He en­cour­aged any­one with in­for­ma­tion about child abuse in soc­cer to come for­ward, “re­gard­less of how long ago the abuse may have taken place”.

A quar­ter of the po­lice forces across Bri­tain are in­ves­ti­gat­ing cases that have made daily head­lines over the past two weeks.

Greater Manch­ester Po­lice said they had iden­ti­fied 10 sus­pects and its in­quiry was widen­ing on a daily ba­sis.

“We are in­ves­ti­gat­ing re­ports from 35 vic­tims and we have iden­ti­fied 10 sus­pects,” said GMP as­sis­tant chief con­sta­ble Deb­bie Ford.

FA chief ex­ec­u­tive Martin Glenn said on Thursday he does not be­lieve child abuse within Bri­tish soc­cer has been cov­ered up.

“It will help un­cover some is­sues that can’t hap­pen again, but do I think there has been a cover-up? I doubt it,” said Glenn, whose or­ga­ni­za­tion has es­tab­lished an in­ter­nal re­view of the al­le­ga­tions.

Chelsea in­ves­ti­ga­tion

Premier League leader Chelsea has opened an in­ves­ti­ga­tion fol­low­ing news­pa­per claims that it bought the si­lence of a for­mer player who said he was abused by a club scout dur­ing the 1970s.

Glenn said the FA would come down hard on any club found to have hushed up re­ports of abuse.

“FA chair­man Greg Clarke is com­mit­ted to a full re­view, shin­ing a torch on what has hap­pened in the past in foot­ball,” he told re­porters at a Wem­b­ley me­dia con­fer­ence to in­tro­duce new Eng­land man­ager Gareth South­gate.

“If there has been ev­i­dence of hush­ing up, when it’s our turn to ap­ply the rules we ab­so­lutely will, re­gard­less of the size of club.”

The scale of the abuse be­gan to emerge after for­mer play­ers Andy Wood­ward, Steve Wal­ters and Paul Stewart last week re­vealed what they had been sub­jected to at the hands of youth coaches.

Con­victed child mo­lester Barry Ben­nell has been ac­cused by sev­eral play­ers of abus­ing them when he worked for Crewe Alexan­dra, Manch­ester City and Stoke City, be­gin­ning in the 1970s.

Ben­nell is the tar­get of five sep­a­rate po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions and on Tues­day he was charged with eight new counts of child abuse, pros­e­cu­tors said.

For­mer New­cas­tle United player David Ea­tock is the lat­est player to speak out.

Now 40, Ea­tock said he was a vic­tim of for­mer youth coach Ge­orge Or­mond, who was sen­tenced to six years in jail in 2002 for of­fenses com­mit­ted over al­most 25 years.

“One of the more dif­fi­cult parts for me is that I wasn’t as young as some of the others,” Ea­tock told The Guardian news­pa­per.

“I was 18 when I got to know Ge­orge Or­mond. I can still re­mem­ber the look on his face, how ter­ri­fy­ing it was.

“It has been like a knot in my brain and I’m now try­ing to pick apart that knot.”

have been iden­ti­fied by po­lice in­ves­ti­gat­ing the sex abuse scan­dal in Bri­tish youth soc­cer It will help un­cover some is­sues that can’t hap­pen again, but do I think there has been a cover-up? I doubt it.” Martin Glenn, FA chief ex­ec­u­tive

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