Football in crisis as allegations of child abuse mount

Posted by Malcolm Johnson on

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Allegations of child abuse from the world of professional football are now on the increase. The BBC has reported that four ex-footballers have spoken out of their abuse by a coach. The allegations are extremely serious.

One former football coach, Barry Bennell aged 62, has served three jail sentences for child sex offences.

A dedicated NSPCC hotline - 0800 023 2642 – has been set up to take calls.

So is abuse in sport a major problem? 

During my twenty years of so, representing survivors of abuse, I have acted for a number of adults who were abused by their sports coaches. We are talking about children in cricket, tennis, football and other sports, both in schools and private clubs. The problem for the sports world is that very often, the need for a team or an individual to achieve a personal best in the game can take precedence over basic child protection.

In fact, I have seen some instances where sports clubs have actually resisted basic child protection measures because they think "it wouldn't happen here." I hope that the Football Association will institute an immediate inquiry.

Child abusers thrive in a climate, where child protection is secondary to performance. Children cannot speak up, because of the fear that they will lose their place in a team. Abusers use that fear to get their silence, and sadly all too often they succeed. The long term damages are catastrophic for the survivors and their families.

In professional football, there is the lure of huge sums commanded by top players. This makes a disclosure even less likely. Children outside sports clubs find it difficult enough to make their disclosures.  

The child abuse compensation team at BL Claims includes Malcolm Johnson, Oliver Jeffcott and Charlotte Allen in London, and Julie Donovan and Julia Prior in Southampton. If you are a survivor of abuse and would like advice on your case please call our team, all information will be treated with the strictest of confidence and our specialist team will provide expert advice and support.


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About the Author

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Malcolm is an Senior Associate in our London office, with nearly twenty years' experience.

Malcolm Johnson
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