More foot­ball play­ers re­port abuses as English FA opens re­view

Malta Independent - - WORLD -

English foot­ball’s gov­ern­ing body launched a re­view yes­ter­day into an es­ca­lat­ing child sex­abuse scan­dal to dis­cover what pro­fes­sional clubs knew about crimes be­ing com­mit­ted by coaches and what ac­tion should have been taken at the time.

No such in­ves­ti­ga­tion was launched by The Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion af­ter Barry Ben­nell, a coach at the cen­tre of the scan­dal who was linked to Manch­ester City and Crewe Alexan­dra, was first con­victed in the 1990s in both the United States and Eng­land for mo­lest­ing play­ers.

It has taken for­mer vic­tims of Ben­nell and other coaches to waive their anonymity over the last two weeks to bring a fresh light on abuses they suf­fered while try­ing to break into pro­fes­sional foot­baller. The play­ers’ union said more than 20 play­ers had ap­proached them with al­le­ga­tions of abuse.

A 24-hour hot­line sup­ported by the FA was set up last week and has since re­ceived dozens of calls.

“With the helpline it’s a mat­ter whether they wish to come out pub­licly or re­main anony­mous,” Pro­fes­sional Foot­ballers’ As­so­ci­a­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Gor­don Tay­lor told Sky News tele­vi­sion. “This is cen­tring for the moment on

clubs Crewe Alexan­dra, Black­pool, Manch­ester City, Stoke, Leeds United and then, in the north­east New­cas­tle United. It would be naive to think there won’t be clubs as well in all ar­eas.”

Four po­lice forces across Eng­land, in­clud­ing in Lon­don, have opened in­ves­ti­ga­tions af­ter be­ing con­tacted about Ben­nell and other un­named in­di­vid­u­als.

“At this time, with ac­knowl­edge­ment that a wide-rang­ing in­quiry may be re­quired in time, we are work­ing closely with the po­lice to sup­port their lead in­ves­ti­ga­tions and must en­sure we do not do any­thing to in­ter­fere with or jeop­ar­dize the crim­i­nal process,” the FA said.

Lawyer Kate Gal­lafent, who has ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing on child pro­tec­tion is­sues in sports, has been brought in by the FA to look into the abuse al­le­ga­tions and “make rec­om­men­da­tions in or­der to seek to en­sure these sit­u­a­tions can never be re­peated.”

“The in­ter­nal re­view will look into 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,” the FA added in a state­ment.

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