‘Covering Up Sexual Abuse?’

“Eight of the {U.K.} professional football clubs contacted by the independent inquiry into the game’s sexual-abuse scandal have failed to respond and now risk disciplinary action unless they tell the investigators what they know…

“The ‘Football Association’ is ready to step in and has the power to impose sanctions if it considers the clubs who have failed to comply – missing two separate deadlines over the past four months and displaying a level of non-cooperation described as “deeply concerning” by one specialist child-abuse lawyer – are threatening to undermine the investigation into what the organisation’s chairman, Greg Clarke, has described as the worst crisis he can remember in the sport. 

“The inquiry team, led by Clive Sheldon QC, wrote to every amateur and professional club in England and Wales on 11 January asking them to supply any information that could help relating to the period covered by the review, from 1970 to 2005, and requesting this was done by 15 March at the latest.

“Sheldon and his colleagues consider that part of the process to be vital if they are to form an accurate picture of what happened in the past, whether there were institutional failures, who knew and what was done about it. However, the first phase of the investigation has been hindered by the difficulties they have encountered waiting for a number of clubs to cooperate.

“The clubs who did not respond within the initial two-month period were contacted a second time and informed that a new deadline had been put in place of the end of April. Yet the fact eight clubs still failed to meet that six-week extension has led to the FA being notified and leaves questions about whether there are still people within the sport who are unwilling to cooperate at a time when Clarke has emphasised the importance of transparency.

“The fact that clubs continue to ignore the FA inquiry and fail to cooperate is deeply concerning,” Dino Nocivelli, a lawyer who is representing a number of the former footballers, told the Guardian. “It clearly shows their disregard for survivors of childhood sexual abuse within football and serious questions have to be asked as to the reasons why these clubs have decided not to engage.”

“The last available figures, released by the ‘National Police Chiefs’ Council’ on 18 April, showed 560 people had come forward citing abuse and 252 suspects had been named since the ‘Guardian’ began its investigation in November. Around 23% of the reported incidents – with 311 clubs named – related to the sport at professional level and ‘Operation Hydrant’, the specialist police unit investigating the matter, had received 1,432 referrals, with almost a third, 457, coming from the north-west.

“The inquiry, which will also look into girls’ football, will examine any evidence of a possible network between the offenders.

“Sheldon was appointed in December and one part of his investigation will be to examine the reasons why, in 2003, the FA withdrew its funding from a review of child-protection policies, two years into what was supposed to be a five-year project led by Celia Brackenridge, a prominent campaigner and researcher from Brunel University.

“Letters have also been sent to every club – a figure close to 20 – linked to the scandal in media coverage to establish if they are holding their own reviews and, if not, asking for the reasons why. Again, the relevant clubs – including Chelsea, Manchester City, Newcastle United, Southampton, Aston Villa, Blackpool and Crewe Alexandra – have been asked to submit their evidence to help Sheldon’s own fact-finding mission, with a view to submitting his report to the FA early next year. The terms of reference state the FA will make public as much as is legally possible.

“Chelsea, the ‘Guardian’ has established, have appointed a QC, Charles Geekie, a specialist in child abuse cases, to examine what happened at Stamford Bridge in the 1970s and the chain of events that led to the club paying one of their former players, Gary Johnson, £50,000 hush money in an attempt to prevent publicity about what happened to him in their youth team. Chelsea admitted in December they now considered that confidentiality agreement to be “inappropriate” and issued a public apology about the way the club had handled the allegations relating to Eddie Heath, formerly their chief scout.

Manchester City, facing the possibility of civil action from a number of their former junior players, have started their own investigation, using two of Manchester’s leading law firms as well as appointing Jane Mulcahy, a London-based QC who is on the national child safeguarding in sport panel and has been involved with the ‘England and Wales Cricket Board’s appeals panel in child-protection cases.

“The next stage of Sheldon’s inquiry will last several months and be devoted to interviewing the survivors and key witnesses. He and his team have received professional training to ensure the process is handled delicately and there will be the opportunity for people to speak anonymously, with an introductory link on the ‘Sport Resolutions’ website.

“Mike Hartill, a senior lecturer in sociology and sport at Edge Hill University who has previously been credited with improving child-protection policies in rugby league, is liaising with Sheldon and has produced a report for the inquiry to detail the measures that used to exist in football. The inquiry team has been interviewing various members of staff from previous FA regimes, as well as gathering evidence from a variety of other sources, but has also had to devote a significant amount of time to looking for relevant information from among the 5,000 boxes of FA archives.

“As disappointing as it has been that almost one out of every 11 professional clubs has missed the various deadlines, that does not reflect the attitudes of the people who have been asked to take part in interviews. Everybody so far has agreed and it is hoped the FA’s involvement may influence the eight clubs who have let down the process so far.”

–‘Football abuse scandal: eight clubs could face sanctions after missing deadlines,’
Daniel Taylor, The Guardian, 15 May 2017 

Feature IMAGE: Paul Stewart, David White, Steve Walters and Andy Woodward (left to right) have gone public with their ordeals (Photo: BBC)




“The review into English football’s child sexual abuse scandal is investigating whether a paedophile ring operated in the game, it can be disclosed.

“The inquiry into how the Football Association and the country’s clubs dealt with the alleged abuse of schoolboy players between 1970 and 2005 – and whether there was any cover-up – is also examining girls’ football during that period.

“Almost six months after it was launched on the back of an avalanche of harrowing allegations at the end of last year, details can be revealed about the scope and status of the review into what FA chairman Greg Clarke admitted was the biggest crisis he could recall the game facing…

“A hotline set up in the wake of the scandal continues to receive calls, while the latest figures from ‘Operation Hydrant’, the police investigation into non-recent allegations of sexual abuse, shows it has had 1,432 referrals and has identified 560 victims aged between four and 20, 96% of whom are male.

“It has also identified 252 suspects, with 311 football clubs impacted – including several in the ‘Premier League’.

“More alarmingly still, 46 of 187 alleged attacks since 1996 are said to have occurred between 2005 and 2016, outside the scope of the review…”

–‘FA investigators seek evidence of paedophile ring’,
Ben Rumsby, Telegraph (U.K.), 15 MAY 2017


From Scotland:
“Fresh allegations of child sex abuse have been made against the founder of ‘Celtic Boys’ Club’, a ‘BBC Scotland’ investigation has revealed.

“New alleged victims of Jim Torbett have come forward claiming he sexually abused them during the 1980s and 90s.

“Torbett “vehemently denies” the allegations against him. The investigation also reveals new claims about former Hibernian and Rangers coach Gordon Neely, who died in 2014.

“An alleged victim claims he was repeatedly raped by Neely from the age of 11. It has also been claimed that when allegations of abuse surfaced, Neely was sacked from Hibs but the police were not informed.

“He then joined ‘Rangers’, where it is claimed he began abusing boys there. ‘Rangers’ also sacked him over alleged abuse. The club claims it informed the police.

“The allegations about Torbett and Neely are made in a BBC programme “Football Abuse: The Ugly Side of the Beautiful Game” …”

“‘Celtic Boys’ Club’ was founded by Jim Torbett in 1966 with the permission of the then ‘Celtic FC’ manager, the late Jock Stein and former chairman Sir Robert Kelly.

“It was created as a separate entity from the football club, but it has been closely linked throughout its history and acted as a feeder club, producing a string of Celtic greats including Roy Aitken, Paul McStay and Tommy Burns.

“Torbett had two stints at the Boys’ Club, the first from 1966-1974. He returned to the Boy’s Club around 1980 and stayed until a series of ‘Daily Record’ stories revealed abuse claims against him in 1996.

“He was jailed for two years in 1998 on conviction of abusing three former ‘Celtic Boys’ Club’ players, including former Scotland international Alan Brazil, between 1967-74.

“At the trial, former Celtic photographer and Boys’ Club chairman Hugh Birt claimed Torbett was fired in 1974 after child abuse allegations arose…

“Torbett returned to the Boys’ Club in around 1980… But no allegations against Torbett in his second period at the Boys’ Club have surfaced — until now…”

–‘New allegations in football abuse scandal’,
Mark Daly, BBC Scotland, 11 April 2017


Adam Johnson leaving Bradford Crown court after being found guilty of child sex offences (PHOTO: Andy Stenning – Daily Mirror)

“Jailed paedophile Adam Johnson has been abandoned by team-mates at his old ‘Premier League’ club.

“Not one Sunderland player has visited the former England star since he got six years for child sex crimes a year ago next week.

“The revelation comes days after three judges booted out Johnson’s attempt to appeal against his ­conviction and sentence. A source said:

“None of the lads have visited him as they are scared about being linked to him.

“They might have said they were his friends before it blew up, but they soon melted away once the police were involved.”

“In contrast, WAGs of the struggling team – including the wives of John O’Shea and Fabio Borini – rallied around his heartbroken partner Stacey Flounders, mum of his toddler daughter, after he was charged.

“Johnson, 29, was refused leave to appeal his conviction for sexual activity with a child, and the severity of his sentence, at the High Court on Thursday.

“He claimed trial judge Jonathan Rose misdirected the jury in his summing up. The winger had admitted abusing a 15-year-old Sunderland fan in his ‘Range Rover’ in a secluded spot in County Durham.

“He is being held at ‘Category C’ Moorland prison near Doncaster, which mainly houses sex offenders.

“Sunderland chief Margaret Byrne quit last March over a “serious error of judgment”, in allowing Johnson to carry on playing despite knowing he had privately admitted the abuse.”

–‘Adam Johnson abandoned by Sunderland team-mates as paedophile footballer reaches one year in prison’,
Lewis Panther, The Mirror (U.K.), 18 March 2017


Photo: PA

“It emerged that he had been paid more than £3m in wages as he continued to play while he awaited trial.”

–‘Adam Johnson has spent £1million ALREADY on fight to clear his name after conviction for underage sexual activity with schoolgirl’,
Jeremy Armstrong The Mirror (U.K.), 28 Feb. 2017


Former player Andy Woodward came forward about being a victim of abuse. (Source: AP)

See also:
Football sex abuse scandal{November 26, 2016}:

Report details widespread sexual abuse at USA Gymnastics facilities{December 15, 2016}:

More Than A Headache (Soccer){Feb. 9, 2017}:

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