700-page report reveals sex abuse scandal in English football
, Manchester United and Chelsea managers have all been implicated
In recent years, there have been a number of sexual abuse scandals in European and American sports, and English football has not been immune.
A report into sexual abuse in English football has found that the Football Association has failed to prevent and punish abuse and allowed it to happen again and again.
Since players came forward to speak out about their victimization in 2016, a number of British players have been brave enough to speak out about what happened to them as teenagers. The Football Association has issued a public apology after being criticised by many.
But in addition to the apology, it is more important to take concrete action to eliminate this ugly phenomenon. The apology and action, which have been belated until now, have been criticized by many insiders.
The 700-page report implicated a number of Premier League clubs
Revelations about the long-running sex abuse scandal in English football began in 2016. It comes after former Sheffield United player Andy Woodward became the first to speak out about being sexually abused at Crewe’s youth training camp by coach Barry Bennell.
The scandal, long shrouded in the shadows of English football, has finally been brought into the light following reports from several players.
Until recently, an independent inquiry led by Clive Shelton, QC, had published its report into sexual abuse in English football. The situation described in the report can be described as “shocking”.
The Guardian newspaper can reveal that the 700-page report includes allegations of sexual abuse of teenage players by a number of managers, including Premier League clubs.
The likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Southampton have all been accused of sexual abuse against young players. Among them, the earliest exposure of the Crewe club and Manchester City club Barry Bennell’s behaviour is particularly bad.
In 1994, Bennell was sentenced to four years in prison for raping an English footballer, but was not expelled from football after he was released. In 1998, he was sentenced to nine years in prison for sexually assaulting six young footballers. In addition to these two crimes, there are many more victims who suffered at his hands.
In contrast to Bennell, who was sentenced to prison, there are many other sexual abusers who have not been reported or convicted, who have gone unpunished, and some who have died.
Screenshots from British media reports.
Turn a blind eye for a long time
Many of the incidents took place in the 1970s and 1980s, according to the report. This means that similar ugliness lingers in the shadows for decades, with many young players suffering injuries that could last a lifetime.
Why have these practices been so prevalent in English football for so many years? Years of neglect by industry insiders is a big reason.
“Much of it is out of ignorance or assumption, and people often feel that they can’t intervene without ‘hard evidence’ or detailed reports from young players, leading to a lack of investigation and monitoring.” Shelton, the lead author of the report.
Even when there are rumours or even detailed indications of abuse, club members often turn a blind eye and are indirectly complicit in condoning the perpetrators.
During the investigation, coach Dario Grady, who had worked with Bennell, went so far as to say that he did not consider it a sexual assault when a coach put his hand down a young player’s pants, but merely “insensitive physical contact.”
When the idea was made public, it provoked, not surprisingly, outrage.
But similar ideas and indulgent behaviour have been replicated time and again in English football, with a lack of attention to the issue, both at the clubs involved and at higher FA level.
Shelton’s report said that until 1995 “nothing was done to protect young people from sexual abuse”.
A late apology is hard to heal
There has been a lack of background checks on coaches in English football for years. In the Shelton report, a coach named Frank Loepel was convicted three times in the 1960s, yet he continued to work with youth soccer.
It was not until the mid-1990s that the Football Association introduced rules on youth sexual abuse, but the practice has not gone away. Clubs and the governing body are not paying enough attention to this attitude, there is still a lot of inertia.
Former Newcastle manager George Ormond, for example, remained at the club for months after allegations of sexual abuse were revealed, before he was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2018.
In the report, Shelton also made a number of recommendations for the FA to do more to prevent sexual offences – such as having a watchdog, creating posts on the FA board and a long-term programme to support young players’ voices.
The FA was quick to respond to Shelton’s report, admitting it had been negligent in preventing sexual offences for years and saying it would take all possible steps to prevent similar incidents in the future.
But the apology, long overdue, did not go down well with some of the victims.
Victims’ groups issued a statement saying: “The safeguards should have been in place in the weeks after the scandal became public and the FA should have made these fundamental changes immediately rather than waiting for the publication of this 700-page report.”
Reprint indicated source：Spark Global Limited information