Four home nation FAs support charity helpline for victims of child sexual abuse in football
The NSPCC has launched a dedicated helpline for the victims of sexual abuse in football across the UK - a move supported by each of the four home nation football associations.
The launch of the free independent helpline number follows the brave decision of former footballers Andy Woodward, Steve Walters, David White and Paul Stewart to speak up about the abuse they suffered as young footballers in England.
Staffed by independent, experienced NSPCC professionals, the helpline will offer support and guidance for victims of childhood sexual abuse within the game. The hotline will be available 24 hours a day on 0800 023 2642.
NSPCC figures show that across the UK boys are over five times less likely to speak up about sexual abuse than girls. In 2015/16 Childline conducted 1,193 counselling sessions with boys about sexual abuse, compared with 6,486 girls.
Supported by the FA, Scottish FA, FA Wales and Irish FA, the NSPCC are now urging players and others involved in football from grassroots to the professional game to speak up using the NSPCC football hotline.
An NSPCC statement said: “There must be no hiding place for sexual abuse in football and many adults may have suffered such horrors as young players but have never come forward.
“As this week’s revelations have shown, 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.
“We welcome the commitment of each of the home nation football associations to helping those in the game get the help and support they need.”
Sue Ravenlaw, the FA's head of equality and safeguarding added: “The courage and dignity being shown by Andy Woodward, Steve Walters, David White and Paul Stewart is immense. We join Andy, the police and others in the continued efforts to encourage more victims and survivors to come forward.
“Anyone who has experienced or is experiencing abuse in football, or who has concerns about children’s welfare, should contact the police or the FA directly, or utilise this specific NSPCC helpline to gain support and advice.”
Donna Martin, Scottish FA Child Wellbeing and Protection Manager, said: “The safety and wellbeing of children is of paramount importance to the Scottish FA, and significant steps have been taken to ensure that their protection is integral to Scottish football’s decision-making processes.
“The Scottish FA takes its role as the governing body of the national game seriously. We would urge anyone with any information relating to abuse or inappropriate behaviour – whether current or historic – to get in touch via the NSPCC’s helpline, or firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Sian Jones, Safeguarding & Player Welfare Manager at the FAW, said: “The courage shown by those who have come forward thus far is incredible and we would encourage victims, survivors and anyone with concerns, current or historical, to use the NSPCC helpline and come forward for advice, guidance and support.”
Kevin Doyle, the Irish FA’s Safeguarding Service Delivery Manager, said: “We applaud this initiative by the NSPCC. The welfare of children and young people is of paramount importance to the Irish FA.
“Our commitment towards all children and young people involved in football is outlined in our safeguarding policies and procedures which recognise the duty of care everyone involved in football has to protect children and their responsibility to report any concerns relating to child welfare.”