Football chiefs enlist children’s charity in wake of abuse scandals
Partnership pledge to protect youngsters
Achildren’s charity is to join forces with Scottish football’s governing body in the wake of a raft of abuse allegations, we can reveal. The chief executive of child protection charity Children 1st, Mary Glasgow, has promised to help the Scottish Football Association better protect young players. And she vowed to ensure the SFA implements all 96 recommendations made in an independent report on child abuse in football which was published earlier this year. The report was commissioned by the SFA following the emergence in 2016 of allegations of abuse against a series of youth coaches, going back over more than three decades. Despite the full report not being released due to ongoing legal cases, The Sunday Post understands it contains harrowing testimony from victims of abuse, and information about their abusers. Ms Glasgow said: “This is a brilliant partnership, and a great opportunity for us. I believe it was really good thing that the Scottish Football Association commissioned the report, but they need to fully implement all the recommendations and they need to do it at a pace. “The reason why we are excited about the partnership is that we can raise awareness of what happens to children when they are not safe. “We can also get alongside the SFA and work with them and ask them: ‘Where are you at with these standards? Where are you at with the recommendations in that report? Can we help you? Can we challenge you? Can we hold you to account?’ “We have had a very good conversation, where I’ve made clear that just because we are in partnership doesn’t mean we are not independent. They understand that.” The partnership with the SFA could see the charity training and monitoring football staff. Children 1st will also work with people at all levels in football to help prevent neglect, abuse, violence and poverty. They will also work with children, parents and the governing body to raise awareness of their work and the importance of protecting children. Ms Glasgow said: “What we are passionate about is helping organisations like the SFA and other sports governing bodies to make sure children can safely participate in sport across the board, and that the adults who are around them are safe, that they treat children with respect. That means they do not exploit them or abuse them.” Ms Glasgow said the new partnership would give the charity the chance to engage with children and parents too, to help them understand their rights and the questions they should be asking when they get involved in sport. She added that football in particular, given its prominence in Scottish society, can be a “an incredible force for good” for children. She said: “Football is a microcosm of society. It draws in people from everywhere. “For kids who live in families affected by issues like poverty and domestic abuse, involving them in sport and football can be the thing that really helps build their confidence and resilience and provide a safe haven. Sport and football can be an incredible force for good.” Scottish FA Chief Executive Ian Maxwell said: “Within Scottish football I have been a player, a coach and now a chief executive but, first and foremost, I am a father. “Children 1st’s work in ensuring some of Scotland’s most vulnerable young people enjoy the best start possible is to be applauded and we are delighted to enter into partnership with them.” The partnership will see Children 1st advertising its Parentline – a confidential support line for anyone concerned about a child – and its Safeguarding in Sport training programme, at matches, on programmes and on other SFA literature. It will also provide training and monitoring for the SFA.