Abuse within football in Scotland – an update

An independent review into the abuse of children within Scottish football was announced by the Scottish Football Association (the SFA) in 2016, and an interim report was published in 2018 which reported that the safety and wellbeing of children needed to be prioritised at every level of the sport.

It is now understood that the final report, which is not expected to be published until next year, will call on clubs to accept responsibility for the abuse suffered by some children in the past. It is understood that Celtic, Rangers, Motherwell and Hibernian are among the clubs involved.  It is also reported that the clubs involved will be called upon to offer genuine and sincere apologies to the survivors of the abuse.  Solicitors acting for survivors are also pressing for the clubs to offer compensation, following the example set in England by Manchester City.

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Abuse in football – Bob Higgins

Bob Higgins, the former youth football coach, who was recently found guilty of 46 charges of indecently assaulting 24 boys, mostly involving trainees at Southampton and Peterborough United between 1971 and 1996, has now been sentenced to 24 years and three months in jail.

Southampton FC has published a formal apology on its website to all victims and survivors of the abuse by Higgins, stating that it “recognises that some of the boys under our care suffered exposure to abuse when they should have received protection from any form of harm. For this, the club is deeply sorry.”

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Football latest

The Offside Trust, the organisation set up in the wake of the football abuse scandal, which aims to work alongside football clubs to enhance safeguarding, has this week claimed that at least 80 sports coaches have been convicted of child sexual abuse in the past two years.

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Football – an update

It has been reported in the press that the Football Association’s independent Inquiry into historical allegations of sexual abuse has found no evidence of organised institutional abuse or a cover-up.  The Inquiry, headed by Clive Sheldon QC, was launched in December 2016, following numerous high profile allegations of sexual abuse, and the final report is expected to be delivered to the Football Association in September 2018.  It is understood that the Inquiry team has to date interviewed 35 survivors of abuse and another 70 people who were involved in the sport at the relevant time.  It is also understood that the Inquiry team has had access to around 13,000 documents. The final report is still expected to be critical and to find failings by both individuals and football clubs themselves.  The Inquiry team is now writing to a number of institutions and individuals to give them advance warning of the contents of the final report so that they may have the opportunity to respond prior to the report being finalised. Continue reading

Sports abuse – an update

There have been a number of developments this month in respect of alleged abuse within sport. Continue reading

Abuse allegations and sport – the story continues

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) recently published its quarterly statistics. Its thirteen investigations and research projects cover a wide range of themes and organisations but one which is missing is that of sport. Football in the UK, gymnastics in the USA are but two sports which have been significantly impacted this year by criminal trials in connection with non-recent sexual abuse.  Notwithstanding the lack of any formal focus on sport by IICSA football is a focus for a number of its own inquiries. Continue reading

Sexual abuse and sport: the current position

Earlier this month Barry Bennell, former coach with Crewe Alexander, was charged with 12 further counts of indecent assault and serious sexual assault on boys in the years between 1980 and 1987. This brings the outstanding charges against him to 20 since Andy Woodward and other players’ allegations about him were first made in November 2016.  He has pleaded Not Guilty to all charges.

Since those initial disclosures there has been a succession of disclosures and developments within UK football and other sports.

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