Sex abuse scan­dal biggest cri­sis ever for FA Chair­man

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

The abuse scan­dal rock­ing English foot­ball is the great­est cri­sis cur­rent Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion chair­man Greg Clarke can recall, he told Sky News yes­ter­day. Clarke was re­fer­ring to the se­rial child mo­lester Barry Ben­nell, who has been ac­cused by at least 20 foot­ballers of abus­ing them when he worked for Crewe Alexan­dra, Manch­ester City and Stoke City across three decades be­gin­ning in the 1970’s, and is sub­ject to five sep­a­rate police in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

The FA has also launched its own in­ter­nal re­view ap­point­ing lead­ing lawyer Kate Gal­lafent, an ex­pert in child pro­tec­tion, to head it up.

The FA said the re­view would find out “what in­for­ma­tion the FA was aware of at the rel­e­vant times around the is­sues that have been raised in the press, what clubs were aware of, and what ac­tion was or should have been taken”.

Clarke took over as chair­man in Au­gust and has al­ready had to deal with the re­moval of Sam Al­lardyce as Eng­land coach over com­ments he made in a news­pa­per sting and the ‘pop­py­gate’ row with FIFA. But he told Sky News this was the most se­ri­ous prob­lem he could re­mem­ber to have af­flicted English foot­ball.

“It’s cer­tainly the biggest (cri­sis) I can re­mem­ber,” said Clarke. “I think the moral con­se­quences of fail­ing to deal with some of these is­sues in the past we must get to the bot­tom of.”

Clarke doesn’t know if the FA at the time de­lib­er­ately turned a blind eye to the go­ings on although a re­porter who made a doc­u­men­tary about sex abuse in foot­ball for Chan­nel Four in 1997 has claimed there is a FA report from 2005 de­tail­ing 250 vic­tims and spread over a num­ber of clubs.

“I don’t know if there was a cover-up or not, I re­ally don’t know,” said Clarke. “I sus­pect like many big prob­lems, peo­ple aren’t drawn to­wards them. My method­ol­ogy is, if there’s a prob­lem, run to­wards it, em­brace it, fix it, dis­close ev­ery­thing that hap­pened. “I think in­sti­tu­tion­ally, all or­gan­i­sa­tions in the old days used to pro­tect them­selves by keep­ing quiet and clos­ing ranks. “That’s com­pletely in­ap­pro­pri­ate and un­ac­cept­able to­day.”

Clarke told the BBC that the FA re­view would not seek to speak to al­leged vic­tims nor would he con­fer with his pre­de­ces­sors as chair­man. “We’ve agreed with the police that we won’t talk to any of the vic­tims for­mally, be­cause they have to talk to them, they have to take state­ments and we’re not al­lowed to in­ter­fere in that process,” said Clarke, who added he thought crit­i­cism of the present FA was mis­placed and they had acted speed­ily to look into the claims.

Ben­nell, who has served three jail terms for pre­vi­ous abuse, is presently hos­pi­talised af­ter police re­sponded to a ‘fear for wel­fare in­ci­dent’ but it has not halted the slew of vic­tims com­ing for­wards.

An­other ap­peared on Tues­day as for­mer Wales Un­der-18 in­ter­na­tional cap­tain Matthew Mon­aghan told the Daily Mail for the first time of the abuse he suf­fered at the hands of Ben­nell when he was a boy at Crewe. Mon­aghan, whose 20-year-old son only learnt of what Ben­nell put his fa­ther through when he went pub­lic on Tues­day, said his dream move to Manch­ester United aged just 14 never saw him kick on and left leg­endary man­ager Alex Fer­gu­son per­plexed and in­fu­ri­ated be­cause of the flash­backs he had of the abuse.

Fer­gu­son thought he was drink­ing too much be­cause he had been led astray by some of the other play­ers-even when he went in for a her­nia op­er­a­tion he ran up a bar bill of £800 be­cause he says there was a fridge stuffed with Guin­ness in his room­but he in­sists it was be­cause of Ben­nell who be­gan to abuse him when he was just 10 and he says raped him at least four times. “He has good weeks and bad weeks but he suf­fers ev­ery day,” says his wife Denise. — AFP

PHILADELPHIA: Car­son Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Ea­gles runs for a touch­down against Micah Hyde #33 and Clay Matthews #52 of the Green Bay Pack­ers in the first quar­ter at Lincoln Fi­nan­cial Field on Mon­day in Philadelphia, Penn­syl­va­nia. — AFP

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