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 Post subject: NSPCC to investigate footballer abuse
PostPosted: Thu Nov 24, 2016 11:46 am 
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Children's charity the NSPCC has launched a football hotline after four ex-players spoke publicly about being sexually abused by coaches as children.

Former Manchester City player David White, ex-Crewe players Andy Woodward and Steve Walters, and ex-Tottenham forward Paul Stewart have spoken out.

The dedicated NSPCC hotline is supported by the Football Association.

"There must be no hiding place for sexual abuse in our national game," NSPCC chief Peter Wanless said.

"There may be many others who suffered through such horrors as young players but have never come forward."

The hotline will be available 24 hours a day on 0800 023 2642.

Shadow sports minister Dr Rosena Allin-Khan has warned the scandal could "seriously damage the reputation of football" in the UK.

Woodward, 43, initially went public last week about his abuse as a child by former Crewe coach and youth football scout Barry Bennell, who was later convicted for sex offences against children.

Cheshire Police said 11 people had since come forward, including Walters, 44, who says he was also a victim of Bennell.

The Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) said it expects that number to rise.

Former England player White, 49, also says Bennell - who was jailed for nine years in 1998 - abused him between 1979 and 1980 while he was playing for Whitehill FC junior team in Manchester.

Stewart, 52, a former England international who started his career at Blackpool and also played for Manchester City and Liverpool, told the Mirror an unnamed coach abused him daily for four years up to the age of 15.

"As this week's revelations have been laid bare, people must be able to speak out and get the help they need, and we know that can often be more difficult for men and boys," added Wanless.

"We welcome the FA's commitment to helping those in the game get the help and support they need."

The children's charity said boys are more than five times less likely to speak up about sexual abuse than girls.

The FA's head of equality and safeguarding, Sue Ravenlaw, said the "courage and dignity" shown by the footballers who have spoken out was "immense".

Allin-Khan said she welcomed the FA's involvement but wants the governing body to do more.

She said a criminal record check on coaches was "not enough", adding: "The FA need to look immediately at what action can be taken to ensure our children are being coached and supervised only by those who have their best interests at heart.

"Parents will no doubt be worried about these claims, it has the potential to seriously damage the reputation of football in our country."

The courage it must have taken for these guys to speak out after all this time is phenomenal after all the stuff we heard about the showbiz industry and the church it's not that surprising that this stuff was going on in football as back then these sick f*cks could get away with this stuff due to the fear of speaking out.

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 Post subject: Re: NSPCC to investigate footballer abuse
PostPosted: Fri Nov 25, 2016 2:39 pm 
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Four ex-footballers have appeared together in an emotional interview to tell of their torment after being abused as children by a coach.

Andy Woodward, who was the first to go public last week, wept as Chris Unsworth and Jason Dunford spoke for the first time of being abused by ex-Crewe Alexandra coach Barry Bennell.

Mr Unsworth said he "never told a soul" that he was raped up to 100 times.

Barry Bennell, 62, has served three jail sentences for child sex offences.

Since Mr Woodward's story emerged, several ex-players have made allegations about being sexually abused by coaches as children - a number of them by Bennell, who is currently living in Milton Keynes.

A dedicated NSPCC hotline - 0800 023 2642 - was set up after the abuse claims came to light and received more than 50 calls within its first two hours.

The prime minister's spokesman commended the former footballers for their bravery in speaking out and said the allegations deserved to be treated with "full seriousness".

Mr Unsworth, 44, said he had decided to waive his right to anonymity after his girlfriend showed him an interview on the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme with ex-Crewe player Mr Woodward, 43.

Mr Unsworth told Victoria Derbyshire on Friday: "I thought I've got to come forward... and help everybody."

He had been a youth player at Manchester City with Bennell before moving to Crewe with him when he was about 12 in the mid-1980s.

He said he had stayed at Bennell's house several times and Bennell sometimes had two or three boys in the bed at once, where he would abuse them.

"We never spoke to each other about it," Mr Unsworth said. "I was raped between 50 and 100 times."

He said he had been nine years old when the abuse started.

The whole of football just needs ripping apart and this can never, ever happen to any young footballer againSteve Walters, Former Crewe player

"I knew what I wanted to get [out of football], and I thought this is what I had to go through. I knew it was wrong but I just went with it," he said.

He left football aged 16 and became a professional golfer. He has now spoken to Cheshire Police and is waiting to be interviewed by them.

Mr Unsworth said: "Both my parents have died and that hurts me, not telling them. I don't know if it was a good thing… because they would have blamed themselves".

'Deathly stare'

Mr Dunford said he had been staying at a Butlins holiday camp after winning a football competition, when Bennell attempted to touch him in bed.

He said: "I told him to eff off, I remember physically hitting him."

Though Bennell did not retaliate, Mr Dunford said he would never forget Bennell's "deathly stare".

Mr Dunford said that after that Bennell began to "torment" him - "dropping me from the team, telling me I would play, but on the Sunday dropping me again".

Mr Dunford left the Manchester City nursery team, as it was known then, and moved to different boys' teams. At one point, he said, another coach also attempted to abuse him.

He said: "He had me and two others over to stay the night before a game, and we all stayed in the same bed.

"He started to touch me. I pushed his hand away.

"Later I woke up and the coach was touching one of the other boys."

Mr Dunford has now given a report to the police.

Neither player turned professional, in part because they felt Bennell drove them away from the game.

'Weight off shoulders'

Bennell, who also worked as a youth football scout, was jailed in 1998 for nine years and also served a four-year sentence in the United States.

In 2015, he was given a two-year term for sexually abusing a boy at a training camp in Macclesfield, but is now out of prison.

Cheshire Police said 11 people had come forward since Mr Woodward spoke out, including fellow ex-Crewe player Steve Walters, 44, who said he had been abused by Bennell, when he was 13 or 14, during a trip to Anglesey.

He told Victoria Derbyshire he had been inconsolable after reading Mr Woodward's story.

"I was so angry and upset, but it was like a hundred tons lifted off my shoulders," he said.

"My career's been ruined, relationships have been ruined… People say 'what happened to you Steve?'"

Mr Walters said more people needed to come forward, particularly "high-profile team mates who are out there".

"I want justice now," he said. "The whole of football just needs ripping apart and this can never, ever happen to any young footballer again.

'I always denied it'

"My name was always mentioned by other people who thought I'd been abused, so police asked me three times, but I always denied it.

"I thought I still had a chance of football, which is why I kept saying it didn't happen."

Dario Gradi, who was Crewe Alexandra's manager for more than 24 years and is now their director of football and academy director, offered "sympathy to the victims of Barry Bennell".

He said he had first known of Bennell's crimes when the coach was arrested in the US in 1994.

In other developments:
■England captain Wayne Rooney - a NSPCC ambassador - urged other players to come forward
■Manchester City said it had opened an investigation amid allegations that Bennell had an association with the club in the 1980s
■According to the Guardian, another unnamed ex-footballer has contacted police to say he was a victim of a former Newcastle United youth coach. George Ormond was jailed in 2002 for offences against young footballers in the area
■Newcastle said the club would co-operate fully with Northumbria police who said they were investigating
■Police said they had attended Bennell's address in Milton Keynes on Thursday to recover a dog and other property "in response to a safeguarding concern". "The force is not investigating any offences in connection with the incident," Thames Valley police said.

In 2001, the Football Association put in place new rules to protect children, requiring adult and junior teams at all levels to have a trained safeguarding or welfare officer.

But former FA chief executive Mark Palios said high-profile clubs were "more easily regulated" than grassroots clubs, which rely largely on volunteer workers who are more difficult to direct.

Some critics say the regulations rely too much on children being able to report abuse.

'No cover-up'

Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, which represents players, said the PFA and the FA had been aware of rumours of abuse.

But he said: "No complaints were made at all - it's become apparent that they [the victims] didn't even tell their families.

"There was no cover-up, no wall of silence. Andy Woodward took two years of therapy to come out."

MP Damian Collins, the chairman of the culture, media and sport committee, said the industry should question if people "turned their gaze from it because the problem seemed so difficult".

He said it would be extremely difficult for young players to speak out against their revered coaches, who guide their future careers.

Considering this monster Bennall lives pretty close lets hope the police get on top of this quickly as it sounds like he's going back behind bars for a long time.

Sounds like more and more will come out now one has been brave enough to come forward I hope it helps them with dealing with these horrible things that happened to them.

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 Post subject: Re: NSPCC to investigate footballer abuse
PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2016 4:59 pm 
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Ex-youth football coach Barry Bennell, who is at the centre of a sex abuse scandal, has been taken to hospital after being found unconscious.

The convicted sex offender was found at an address in Knebworth Park, Stevenage on Friday, Thames Valley Police said.

The force said the 62-year-old former Crewe coach remains in hospital.

Four police forces are investigating claims of historical abuse after a number of former players recently spoke out about their experiences.

Bennell was given a four-year sentence for raping a British boy on a football tour of Florida in 1994 and a nine-year sentence in 1998 for 23 offences against six boys in England.

He was jailed for a third time in 2015 after admitting abusing a boy at a 1980 football camp in Macclesfield.

Two weeks ago, former Crewe player Andy Woodward went public about the abuse he said he suffered at the hands of Bennell. A number of other former footballers have since come forward to make further allegations of abuse.

Former youth team players Chris Unsworth and Jason Dunford also told BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme they had been abused by Bennell.

David White, Steve Walters and Paul Stewart have also waived their anonymity to speak publicly about suffering abuse.

Crewe Alexandra have begun their own independent review into the claims.

The Football Association has also confirmed it is investigating claims of sexual abuse in football.

East of England Ambulance Service said it had received "a report of an unconscious man and a crew attended the scene" at 22:50 GMT on Friday.

In a statement, Thames Valley Police added it had dealt with a "fear for welfare incident".

It said: "At this stage of enquiries, it would be inappropriate to comment further."

The Hampshire, Cheshire, Northumbria and Metropolitan police forces have all opened investigations following the recent allegations.

Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) chief executive Gordon Taylor says more than 20 former footballers have come forward regarding allegations of sexual abuse.

Taylor said at least "six or seven clubs" including Crewe, Manchester City, Blackpool, Leeds, Stoke and Newcastle were connected with "particular individuals".

Blackpool released a statement saying the club was "yet to receive any information from the PFA or relevant authorities in relation to the ongoing investigations of historical abuse".

Leeds also said it had not been made aware of any allegations, but would "take any such complaints seriously and will cooperate fully with the PFA and the FA with any investigations".

Football's world governing body Fifa said in a statement: "We are aware of the allegations. Fifa considers the protection of children and young people as fundamental in football and we will monitor the situation closely."

Meanwhile, Conservative MP Damian Collins, the culture, media and sport committee chairman told the BBC the FA review needed to establish if there was a cultural problem in the sport.

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 Post subject: Re: NSPCC to investigate footballer abuse
PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 11:19 am 
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A former Chelsea footballer claims the club paid him £50,000 to keep quiet about allegations of sexual abuse by a former chief scout.

Gary Johnson told the Mirror he had been abused as a youth player by Eddie Heath, who is now dead.

According to the Mirror, in 2015 Mr Johnson signed a confidentiality agreement and accepted £50,000 from the club, but it did not accept any blame.

Chelsea said they had appointed a law firm to investigate a former employee.

The latest allegations about sexual abuse in football comes as police say about 350 victims have now reported historical incidents within UK football clubs.

Mr Johnson, 57, was a member of Chelsea's first team from 1978 to 1981.

He joined the club as an 11-year-old in 1970 and said he had been groomed from the age of 13 by Heath.

Mr Johnson told the paper he went to the police in 2014 and was advised to "go back to Chelsea".

He went to a law firm who approached Chelsea for compensation.

"They basically said 'prove it'," said Mr Johnson. "It made me feel like they thought I was faking it."

The BBC understands that the confidentiality clause was lifted on Wednesday

'Gagging order'

Mr Johnson told the paper: "Millions of fans around the world watch Chelsea. They are one of the biggest and richest clubs in the world.

"All their fans deserve to know the truth about what went on. I know they asked me to sign a gagging order. How many others are there out there?

"They may have paid others for their silence. I hope and pray no clubs are allowed to cover this up - no one should escape justice."

In a statement Chelsea said: "Chelsea Football Club has retained an external law firm to carry out an investigation concerning an individual employed by the club in the 1970s, who is now deceased.

"The club has also contacted the FA to ensure that all possible assistance is provided as part of their wider investigation.

"This will include providing the FA with any relevant information arising out of the club's investigation."

800 callers

There are now 17 forces looking into allegations of historical child sexual abuse in football.

The National Police Chiefs' Council said a "significant number of calls" had been received after several former players alleged past abuse by coaches.

The NSPCC says more than 860 people have called its dedicated football hotline, set up a week ago.

Seems odd that a club can try to make a legally binding pay off to stop someone reporting criminal activity.

It doesn't surprise me that this stuff used to happen all these institutions where adults had control over young kids had problems with these wrong'uns finding their way in and sadly it seems so many turned a blind eye to it as these people rose to positions of power.

Some of the stories that have come out are frightening you just hope that with the modern laws and rules around child protection that the chances of this happening now are massively reduced

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 Post subject: Re: NSPCC to investigate footballer abuse
PostPosted: Sat Dec 03, 2016 5:10 pm 
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A former employee of Southampton Football Club accused of sexually abusing young players in the 1980s is still working in the sport, it has been reported.

BBC Radio 4’s Today programme said it understood the former staff member left Southampton after concerns were raised about his behaviour towards members of the club’s youth team.

The programme claimed the staff member went on to work for other clubs and, despite being asked to leave one of them, was still working in the game.

Southampton has said it will work with Hampshire police as at least 18 forces around the country investigate claims from up to 350 people of historical child sexual abuse in youth football.

The development came as the England men’s and women’s captains, Wayne Rooney and Steph Houghton, joined Alan Shearer and other leading football figures in urging players to come forward with allegations.

In a video on “safeguarding” published for the Football Association and NSPCC children’s charity, published on the FA’s Twitter account, Rooney said: “It’s important that everyone knows how to raise any concerns about the child’s welfare.

“If you’re a young boy or girl and you’re upset, hurt or scared with the way someone behaves with you, please let someone you trust know now.”

Rooney has previously praised Andy Woodward, 43, who came forward two weeks ago to say he was abused as a young player.

West Midlands police said it was “investigating four historical allegations of child sexual abuse in football” and Kent police said it had received reports of abuse within the county’s football community.

So far 10 suspects have been identified, and Greater Manchester police said it was investigating reports from 35 people, with its inquiry growing on a “daily basis”.

On Tuesday, the former coach Barry Bennell was charged with eight offences of sexual assault against a boy under the age of 14. The offences allegedly took place between 1981 and 1985.

The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (Napac) said it had seen a 10-fold increase in the number of adult survivors of child abuse registering for their support groups – from 10 registrations a week to 100 – in the past three weeks.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council said around 350 people across the country had reported abuse allegations.

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 Post subject: Re: NSPCC to investigate footballer abuse
PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2016 11:50 am 
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One day last week an email arrived at Manchester United marked for the attention of Sir Alex Ferguson. They probably get a lot of emails for Ferguson, one imagines. He still has an office at Old Trafford, he is a director of the club and, though nobody should imagine they go straight into his personal inbox, there is a small army of staff to sift through all the correspondence.

This one came from the family of Matthew Monaghan and it was written in the hope that Ferguson would get a better understanding, almost 30 years on, as to why one of the players from the club’s youth system went so badly off the rails he lasted only two months as a professional before eventually walking away from football for good.

Monaghan had waived his anonymity to talk, in depth, about what happened to him in the junior setup at Crewe in the 1980s and how those experiences had shaped his life. A television appearance was booked in and his stepdad, Geoff, decided Ferguson ought to know. “I think it will answer a question that you may have asked yourself so many years ago,” he wrote to the former United manager. “The reason you lost what, in my personal opinion, would have been one of your best players.”

To give United their due, the reply – all 22 words of it – came back within 24 hours. It was from their customer-care department and a remarkable piece of work given the way it managed to say so little yet so much. “Dear Geoff. Thank you for your email. We are sorry but we are unable to pass on your email. Kind regards.” And I have left off the person’s name who sent it, out of a spirit of generosity that I’m not absolutely sure is merited.

Remember that trend a while back when people would make a W for “whatever” with their fingers? There has been a lot of that over the past two decades, unfortunately, when it comes to the story that has been dominating football’s landscape over the last few weeks.

It also goes much higher up the chain judging by the letters that have been passed my way from various people – parents, for the most part – trying to alert MPs, the Football Association, the Professional Footballers’ Association and many others that the sport had better wise up. Nobody, until now, seemed willing to absorb what they were being told and take decisive action. Some of the people writing these letters did not even get replies or, failing that, were fobbed off with the standard corporate-speak of people too busy with other matters, politely passing the buck and explaining in the briefest terms that it was one for another department, but thank you very much for writing in anyway.

Knowing what we do now, it stinks. It was a “whitewash”, according to one parent who spent years trying to be heard, and it would certainly be appreciated if Martin Glenn, the current chief executive of the FA, could elaborate on his comments the other day when he was emboldened enough to say he did not think there had been any kind of cover-up – especially when the chairman of the same organisation, Greg Clarke, had already said it could not be ruled out.

In an ideal world, it would be nice to think this was more than wishful thinking on Glenn’s part, but it isn’t easy knowing what is going through his mind when he does not even sound sure that the numbers involved (around 1,000 calls to the FA’s hotline, at the last count) are that mind‑boggling. “Child abuse is a society issue and because of football’s importance – we have three million people playing every weekend, 800,000 volunteers – the scale is big,” Glenn explained. “So it is hard to say of those calls, whether that is a large number or a small one.”

Glenn, to recap, introduced himself in his first press conference at the top of English football by telling everyone he was not an expert when it came to football. He is clearly not an expert in numbers, either. Sport England’s last figures show 1.9 million people in England play football once a week (though not necessarily at weekends) and the FA’s own website puts the number of volunteers at 400,000. Yet, whatever his reasons for this kind of exaggeration, it strikes me that it is a large number of calls, rather than a small one. Most people, I presume, would think the same when at least 350 people have made complaints to the police and, bearing in mind that was Thursday’s figure, heaven knows what the number is now, or where it will stop.

We also don’t know how many others are still holding back but nobody should think that figure will be small. Again, a number of former players have been in touch over the last week with their own harrowing accounts. It just isn’t easy for everyone to go public when there are children to tell, or elderly parents who might not have known anything about it. Others have explained that it is too raw, too early, and it isn’t hugely encouraging for them that Glenn, meanwhile, appears to be questioning whether some of the claims might be bogus – “I don’t know how many are real or how many will be followed up,” being another line – and concluding that English football is far too noble to have concealed anything untoward.

Back in the real world, Chelsea’s £50,000 payment to dissuade their former player Gary Johnson from going public about what he experienced with Eddie Heath, a scout at Stamford Bridge in the 1970s, provides hard evidence about what the sport is really like.

Money talks but it also stops talk and, however cynical this might sound, there is absolutely nothing about the Chelsea story that is in the slightest bit surprising. Football clubs pay for confidentiality agreements when a manager leaves – as, indeed, do the FA – so nobody should be shocked that Chelsea offered hush money to a victim of sexual abuse. Heath cannot be prosecuted because he is dead. That does not make Chelsea’s approach any more appealing but, however much you and I might dislike it, don’t think for a second that other clubs would not do the same if they could get away with it. The club’s statement on Saturday acknowledges it could have been handled better but, if nothing else, at least there was a willingness to confront the issues in a way we have not seen from Crewe, among others.

All that can really be said is that there is still an awful lot more to come out and, when everything is done, there are many people within the sport who will have serious questions to answer about what they knew and what they did, or didn’t do, about that information.

At least 55 clubs, at professional and amateur level, have been named so far. Eighteen different police forces are investigating and in the last week I have seen a written admission, dating back to 2000, from the now-deceased official of one club accepting his colleagues made a terrible error of judgment appointing one man, acknowledging “suspicions were aired on many an occasion” and expressing his wish that the boys and parents who had suffered might eventually forgive them.

The mother of one former youth‑team player has been in touch and, among many worrying recollections, wanted to know if I was aware that the boys at another club were sometimes photographed stepping out of the showers. Further inquiries revealed that, yes, a number of players could remember it, too. They were just too young at the time to realise that it was wrong. For now, these people cannot be named. But they will be, in due course.

There are some formidable journalists covering this story now but it is also becoming increasingly obvious that it was very different back when it really mattered. One newspaper review of the Dispatches documentary in 1997 hardens those suspicions given that its author talks of “scare-mongering” and accuses the programme of being “too busy charging around, looking for somewhere to bang in its nails. It found a couple of clubs, who it claimed were slow to respond to reports of abuse. And it found the Football Association, who were said to be guilty of failing to issue ‘guidelines’. I felt slightly sorry at this point for the FA, who might quite honourably have assumed that sending instructions ‘Don’t let child molesters run your youth team’ was somehow surplus to requirement.”

What a pity Deborah Davies, the Dispatches reporter, was not afforded more respect. Instead, a fine piece of investigative journalism attracted something bordering on ridicule – “It seemed for a second that Dispatches was going to argue for a total ban on football” – and maybe, if there had been a warmer response, it might not have taken almost 20 years before Andy Woodward felt emboldened enough to start the process that has empowered so many others to do the same.

Many of them are old friends, back in touch with each other for the first time in 20 years, and it has been quite something to see the way they relate to one another. If one of them is having a tough day, the others rally round. If anyone seems low, someone else in the group will notice. It has been difficult, emotionally sapping and all‑consuming like no other story that I have covered, but when people ask if it has been harrowing it would be extraordinarily lame to indulge in self‑pity given everything they have endured, their comradeship and remarkable endurance.

It has actually been uplifting to be in their company, to help them tell their stories and to see where they were a few weeks ago and where they are now. Messages of support have arrived from all across the world. People have written to these men to say it has changed – and, in some cases, saved – their lives and everything has moved so quickly there are already plans for a new independent trust, the Offside Trust, involving Woodward, Steve Walters and Chris Unsworth, and providing support for anyone who has suffered abuse in football.

That group will need financial assistance and perhaps the PFA might wish to contribute, if we remember this is the organisation that gave its chief executive, Gordon Taylor, a pay rise from £1.13m a year to £3.37m in 2015. Woodward, meanwhile, received a call from the PFA earlier this year to inform him it was withdrawing its funding for the counselling that had brought him back from the point of suicide.

It is true what Gareth Southgate said – you can love this sport, but the more you get to know about it the less likable it becomes.

What do they expect Fergie to do assuming he even remembers the lad Utd were probably better off not responding at all.

The most disturbing thing about all this is you get the impression that within the football bubble people knew this was going on but until recently no one dared speak up

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 Post subject: Re: NSPCC to investigate footballer abuse
PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2016 11:44 am 
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It is less than three weeks since ex-Crewe defender Andy Woodward waived his right to anonymity to say that he was a victim of sexual abuse as a young footballer.

Since then, more than 20 former footballers - including ex-youth players, trainees and professionals - have also come forward with allegations of historical abuse in football.

The Football Association has announced an internal review; 350 people have alleged they are victims and 55 amateur and professional football clubs are linked to allegations of abuse.

FA chairman Greg Clarke says it is the biggest crisis he can remember for the organisation.

How did the news emerge?

On 16 November, former Bury and Sheffield United player Woodward, 43, waived his right to anonymity and told the Guardian that he was sexually abused as a youth player.

Since he spoke out, several others - including former England and Tottenham footballer Paul Stewart and ex-Manchester City striker David White - have told their stories publically.

On Monday, former Crewe Alexandra players Woodward and Steve Walters and ex-Manchester City youth player Chris Unsworth launched an independent trust that will "fight for justice" and support victims.

The Offside Trust is asking for donations from the English Football League, Football Association, Premier League, Professional Footballers' Association and commercial organisations that profit from the game.

How many clubs are involved?

To date, there are 55 amateur and professional football clubs linked to allegations of abuse, with several having confirmed their own inquiries.

Chelsea have apologised "profusely" to former footballer Gary Johnson over abuse he suffered in the 1970s and are conducting their own review into the case.

Charlton Athletic, Crewe Alexandra and Manchester City have also opened investigations into allegations of historical abuse.

Southampton are "fully supporting" Hampshire Police in its investigations and Newcastle say they will "co-operate fully" with the "relevant authorities".

Martin Glenn, FA chief executive has said: "We have clear rules in the game and if there's any evidence of a breach of those - and hushing up would be one - when it's our turn to apply the rules, we absolutely will, regardless of size of club."

He later added: "I can't say if there has been a cover-up in the game but I doubt it."

What is the FA doing?

The FA has begun an internal review - led by Clive Sheldon QC - to look at what officials and clubs knew and when. It had been intended that Kate Gallafent QC would lead the review, but she was replaced because of her other professional commitments.

The review will look at what information the FA was aware of at relevant times and what action was, or should have been, taken.

The FA has said it is working closely with police but added it "must ensure we do not do anything to interfere with or jeopardise the criminal process".

The Child Protection in Sport Unit, which has assisted the FA in relation to its safeguarding procedures since 2000, will also carry out an independent audit into the FA's practises.

BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme reported that the FA scrapped a major review of its child protection policies in 2003.

Are police investigating?

Twenty police forces have opened investigations into the claims.

They are:

Devon and Cornwall, Warwickshire, Avon and Somerset, Essex, Norfolk, North Yorkshire, Dorset, Staffordshire, Greater Manchester, North Wales, Cambridgeshire, Hampshire, Cheshire, West Midlands, South Wales, Dyfed-Powys, Scotland Yard, Police Scotland, Northumbria Police and Derbyshire Constabulary.

Which other organisations have acted?

A dedicated sexual abuse helpline, set up by the NSPCC and supported by the FA, received 860 calls within the first three days of its launch.

The organisation made more than 60 referrals to a range of agencies across the UK.

That was more than three times as many referrals as in the first three days of the Jimmy Savile scandal, the charity said.

The chief executive of funding body UK Sport has said if any sport did not take enough action to deal with the issue of abuse it would reconsider its funding.

The national child abuse inquiry is considering whether to investigate abuse in football as part of its overarching probe, culture secretary Karen Bradley said.

How widespread could abuse be?

Former Tottenham midfielder Stewart has said the sport could be facing a crisis on the scale of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

After his death, former DJ and television presenter Savile was found to be a prolific sexual predator.

PFA Scotland's chief executive Fraser Wishart said it would be "naive to think" the allegations were unique to one part of the UK and urged players of all levels to report any claims of abuse.

The head of the FA even suggesting that their hasn't been a cover up is pathetic given what we've just been through with Hillsborough and Saville it seems obvious that cover ups happened in all areas of live in the past hell they probably still happen now.

They need to keep an open mind on this they don't know what happened at all these clubs and with the stuff that's coming out about payments and Dario Gradi going round to a players house to speak to he parents stinks of a potential cover up. This was looked into back in the 90's by dispatches and was widely dismissed as vicious rumours and lies even though Bennell had been convicted in America.

I'm surprised Gradi is still at Crewe surely at this point anyone involved in this needs to be put on gardening leave while the investigation is carried out it seems like this stuff was happening all over the country and the lack of monitoring by the clubs allowed these vile human beings to operate undetected in positions of power over vulnerable young boys.

Not saying Gradi knew anything but the fact he's so closely linked to this means he needs to be properly questioned over the role he played and what he knew and why he did what he did.

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 Post subject: Re: NSPCC to investigate footballer abuse
PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2016 2:58 pm 
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Queens Park Rangers football club have said they are aware of historical child abuse allegations made against former employee Chris Gieler.

The west London Championship club said it "takes these allegations very seriously" and would "co-operate fully in any forthcoming investigation".

Mr Gieler left the club in 2003 and died the following year.

He was employed by QPR for about 30 years, working in youth development and as chief scout.

Mr Gieler arrived at Loftus Road in 1971 as a schoolboy scout and in 1979 he became youth development manager, responsible for the entire youth programme.

The club's announcement came as the Football Association announced that the internal review into child sexual abuse allegations in football would be led by Clive Sheldon QC.

A total of 450 people have alleged they are victims and 55 amateur and professional football clubs are linked to allegations of abuse going back several decades.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland has become the latest force to confirm it is investigating claims, so there are now 21 police forces looking into reports.

Abuse review

In a statement, QPR said: "Any form of abuse has no place in football or society.

"QPR has robust recruitment procedures and safeguarding policies in place to ensure the protection and welfare of both children and vulnerable adults, and we employ a full-time designated safeguarding manager who works across all areas of the club."

The club said it had had someone responsible for safeguarding in place since 2011, in line with FA, Premier League and Football League guidelines.

Earlier, former Premier League manager Harry Redknapp told the BBC that "rumours" that ex-Southampton coach Bob Higgins may have abused young players in the 1980s had been "rife" for years.

He said that, because of this, he was "amazed" that Mr Higgins, who is facing fresh allegations of historical sexual abuse, had continued to be involved in football.

Former Southampton youth player and ex-professional footballer Billy Seymour told the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme that he had been abused by Mr Higgins from the age of 12 to 14.

He said that because of this he had "self-medicated" with drink and drugs, and said he had been to prison three times for "anger issues".

"My life has been chaos really, over the last 20 years," he said.

"I'm just hoping now I can start opening up and start living."

Mr Seymour told the BBC that the abuse "started with grooming and preferential treatment, coming round and picking me up, taking me to scouting missions, gifts, tracksuits, aftershave".

He said he would stay at Mr Higgins' house, where he said the former coach would walk into his bedroom late at night, or would invite him into his bedroom in the morning, and touch his "groin area".

Mr Higgins has previously denied all allegations and was acquitted of sexual abuse charges in 1992.

The BBC has been unable to contact him for comment.

Meanwhile, the FA has published the full terms of reference of its review, which covers what was known and what actions were taken by the FA from the 1970s.

The FA said the precise number of players, alleged abusers and clubs it would investigate was as yet unknown.

Gagging orders

Separately, a lawyer representing a new body supporting victims said "calls and emails are coming in all the time" from players claiming to have been forced to sign non-disclosure agreements with clubs in return for compensation.

He told the BBC such clauses would seem "entirely inappropriate" for an issue such as the abuse of children, but said that the victims coming forward had named "several" clubs as using them.

The claims come after Chelsea FC apologised to former player Gary Johnson for the abuse he suffered as a trainee in the 1970s, having waived the confidentiality clause in a £50,000 agreement they made with him last year.

Who is Bob Higgins?

In April 1989, Bob Higgins was dismissed by Southampton FC, where he worked as a youth coach, after several allegations were made against him.

He had set up The Bob Higgins Soccer Academy, but on 27 April 1989 the Football League sent a letter to all football clubs warning that it was "opposed to the activities" of the group.

In May 1995, Mr Higgins joined Peterborough United as a youth coach. He left in April 1996 by mutual consent.

After spending some time working in Malta he was appointed manager of the non-league side Bashley FC, until he was sacked in 2001.

After Bashley he briefly worked at Winchester City where he operated in an "advisory role" for the senior team.

He later landed a coaching role with Fleet Town FC on an "informal, unpaid basis", but has since left. Fleet Town said his role did not involve working with children.

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 Post subject: Re: NSPCC to investigate footballer abuse
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2016 1:34 pm 
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Former England and Southampton footballer Matt Le Tissier has said he was given a "naked massage" by a coach at the centre of sex abuse allegations.

Bob Higgins, a former youth officer at the club, is accused of historical sexual abuse against young players.

Mr Le Tissier said he was not abused but the incident was "very wrong".

He added allegations of sexual abuse in football "have not come as a big surprise". Mr Higgins denies wrongdoing.

Describing the incident, Mr Le Tissier told BBC South: "Everyone was kind of naked and getting thrown on this bed... and a very quick massage - it was uncomfortable.. it's very, very wrong for a start - looking back on it, you think it's wrong but as a young boy you thought 'is this normal'?

"It's pretty disgusting. What went on is not normal behaviour. When you hear the stories of naked soapy massages, hairy bum competitions... you look back at it now and think 'hang on, what was going on?'.

"Obviously boys talk at that age, they take the Mickey, it kind of gets covered up as a bit of banter at that stage. But as you grow into an adult, you look at it and think 'that's not right'."

Mr Le Tissier, who joined Southampton in 1985 aged 16, added: "I would like to think the bravery of the boys that have come out will encourage everyone else who experienced those kind of things."

He later tweeted: "For the record. I've never felt like I've been abused. Still don't. Please don't feel sorry for me, I'm all good. Just stated what happened."

The BBC understands Mr Higgins left Southampton after concerns were raised about his behaviour and a TV documentary then broadcast the testimony of eight alleged victims.

Mr Higgins has denied all allegations and was acquitted of sexual abuse charges in 1992.

The FA has launched an internal review into historical abuse allegations.

In a statement, it said: "The FA has today published the full terms of reference for the review into issues arising from the recent press reports relating to allegations of non-recent child sexual abuse in football."

The review covers what was known and what actions were taken by the FA from the 1970s. The FA said the precise number of players, alleged abusers and clubs it would investigate was as yet unknown.

It has appointed Clive Sheldon QC to lead the review, replacing Kate Gallafent QC, who was originally appointed.

Southampton FC has said it is working with police and investigating how it has handled these issues in the past.

The BBC has made several attempts to speak to Mr Higgins without success.

Probably the most high profile person to speak out so far on this so far.

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 Post subject: Re: NSPCC to investigate footballer abuse
PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2016 2:21 pm 
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There are now 83 potential suspects and 98 clubs involved in the inquiry into child abuse in football, police chiefs have said.

The investigations span all tiers of football, "from premier clubs through to amateur", the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) said.

Police forces across the country are continuing to receive calls, it added.

Of the identified victims, 98% were male, and the age at the time of abuse was between seven and 20, police said.

A total of 639 referrals had been received from the helpline set up by the children's charity the NSPCC, and directly from police forces.

The information is being passed to Operation Hydrant - which oversees the investigation of allegations of "non-recent" child sex abuse within institutions - which collates it and shares it across forces.

The NPCC's lead for child protection said the allegations were "being swiftly acted upon" by police.

Although 98 football clubs had been "referenced", not all were necessarily under investigation, the police said.

And it said the number of victims, previously reported to be 350, continued to apply until all the referrals had been analysed and processed.

'No complacency'

Meanwhile, Premier League boss Richard Scudamore has written to the parents of more than 3,000 players in the league's youth system to reassure them their children are being protected.

In the letter, which was sent on Wednesday to the parents of children aged eight to 18, Mr Scudamore said the league had been "very concerned" by the allegations of historical sexual abuse at professional football clubs.

"The victims and survivors have been extremely brave to come forward and have our sympathy and support," he wrote.

"Given the volume of media coverage these disturbing stories understandably continue to generate, it is important that you... are made aware of the current standards and provisions in place to keep your children safe."

Mr Scudamore went on to outline the Premier League's various safeguarding measures.

He added: "There is no complacency - the Premier League's own safeguarding team and independent monitors visit each club regularly throughout every season to assess the quality of their work and guide them on any developments that could be made."

Three weeks ago, ex-Crewe defender Andy Woodward waived his right to anonymity to say he had been a victim of sexual abuse as a young footballer.

Since then, more than 20 former footballers - including ex-youth players, trainees and professionals - have come forward with allegations of historical abuse in football.

Governing body the Football Association has announced an internal review.

A leading civil rights lawyer has backed calls for an inquiry into child abuse in Scottish football.

Raju Bhatt, who sat on the independent panel into the Hillsborough disaster, said failure to do so would be a betrayal of the victims.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has already rejected calls for a current inquiry into the abuse of children in care to be widened, saying it should be down to the police to probe football abuse claims.

Children's charity the NSPCC said the "shocking" numbers had revealed the "deeply disturbing extent of abuse" in football.

It said its football hotline, launched with the support of the FA, had seen a "staggering surge" in calls in its first week.

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 Post subject: Re: NSPCC to investigate footballer abuse
PostPosted: Mon Dec 12, 2016 2:44 pm 
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Crewe Alexandra have confirmed director Dario Gradi has been suspended pending a Football Association investigation that will include looking into claims he "smoothed over" a complaint of sexual assault against a Chelsea scout in the 1970s.

A former youth player at Chelsea - where Gradi was assistant manager - says he was assaulted by Eddie Heath, the club's chief scout, when he was 15.

Gradi, 75, denies any wrongdoing and says he will help the FA's review.

Heath, who has since died, has been accused by several people of abuse in the 1970s and 1980s.

The League Two club stated on their website: "Following discussions with the Football Association, Crewe Alexandra can confirm that Dario Gradi is currently under an FA interim suspension from football."

The FA, as part of its widened review into child sex abuse allegations, expects to question Gradi after the Independent reported that, in 1974, he went to see the parents of a youth player at Chelsea about a sexual assault.

The former youth player - who cannot be identified for legal reasons - told the newspaper: "He [Gradi] came to visit my parents and me to smooth it over.

"I remember him saying something like: '[With] Eddie, [football] is his life and he gets a bit close to the boys. I'm sorry if he's overstepped the mark in his fondness this time.'"

Chelsea are not known to have taken any action and Gradi has made no specific comments on this claim or his links with Heath.

In a statement last Friday, he said: "Aside from denying any wrongdoing, it would be inappropriate and unfair on all parties to comment piecemeal through the media at this time in connection with historical allegations.

"Suffice to say, I will do everything within my power to assist all investigatory authorities into what is becoming a wide-ranging and important inquiry into historical sexual abuse."

The FA has given no indication about who will be spoken to as part of its review.

Gradi has previously said he "knew nothing" about the alleged abuse of young footballers by anyone connected with Crewe until 1994 and that he then co-operated with the authorities.

Who is Dario Gradi?

Despite failing to win any major honours in his management career, Gradi developed a reputation as a fine coach of young players, primarily at Crewe Alexandra.

Born in Milan, Italy, he came to the UK as a child after the Second World War and went on to play football at non-league level, before becoming Chelsea assistant coach in 1971, aged 29.

He remained at the London club until 1976, before returning to Sutton United, who he used to play for.

Following spells as manager of Wimbledon and Crystal Palace, he began an association with Crewe in 1983 that now spans 33 years.

He was manager from 1983 to 2007, leading the team to the second tier of English football for the first time in 1997, and was awarded an MBE for services to football a year later.

Crewe's 11th-placed finish in their first year in the second tier remains the highest finish in the club's history.

During Gradi's tenure, the club won the PFA Bobby Moore Fair Play Trophy 12 times in 15 years.

Having had a spell as director of football, Gradi had a second stint as manager from 2009 to 2011 before returning to the overseeing role he still occupies.

In 2013, aged 72, Gradi became the oldest person appointed to Greg Dyke's FA commission charged with improving English football from the grassroots upwards.

Described by the National Football Museum as "one of English football's best developers of young players", Gradi's tenure at Crewe has seen internationals David Platt, Geoff Thomas, Danny Murphy, Seth Johnson, Robbie Savage and Dean Ashton emerge.

The National Football Museum inducted Gradi into its Hall of Fame in 2004, and he was given the Football League's outstanding contribution to football award in 2011.

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 Post subject: Re: NSPCC to investigate footballer abuse
PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2016 7:55 pm 
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Barry Bennell, the former Crewe Alexandra youth-team coach, has been remanded in custody after appearing in court charged with sexual assaults against a boy in the 1980s. He is scheduled to appear at Chester crown court on 11 January.

Bennell did not enter a plea when he appeared by videolink at Crewe magistrates’ court to face eight offences, including assault with intent to commit buggery, against a boy under the age of 15, from 1981 to 1985.

One of the offences is alleged to have taken place at a Butlins holiday camp, another in a car and another at an address in the Peak District.

Bennell, 62, looked frail and sat with his arms folded during the 14-minute appearance when he gave his last address as Milton Keynes. He has previously coached boys affiliated to Manchester City and also had past links with Stoke City as well as coaching a number of other junior sides in Cheshire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Greater Manchester and the United States.

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 Post subject: Re: NSPCC to investigate footballer abuse
PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2017 12:17 pm 
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Former football coach Barry Bennell has pleaded not guilty to eight charges of sexual assault against a boy under 16.

The former youth coach at Crewe Alexandra denied the eight counts when he appeared at Chester Crown Court.

The charges all relate to allegations of abuse between 1981 and 1986.

Mr Bennell, 63, wearing a blue polo neck shirt and appearing via videolink from HMP Woodhill, in Milton Keynes, answered "not guilty" to all the charges as they were put to him.

The ex-coach, who also worked at Manchester City, Stoke City and junior teams in north-west England and the Midlands, was remanded into custody until 20 March.

Owen Edwards, prosecuting, told the court the alleged victim "preserves his anonymity".

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