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A recent independent review into historical child sexual abuse has found that there have been significant institutional failings within the Football Association (FA). It stated that the FA were too slow to take action and have sufficient protective measures in place between October 1995 and May 2000. The report focused on the abuse of children between 1970 and 2005.

The report revealed that the FA failed to ban two of the most notorious perpetrators of child sexual abuse, Barry Bennell and Bob Higgins, from involvement in football. There were known to be at least 240 suspects and 692 survivors, yet relatively few people reported abuse and the actual level was likely to be far higher. Worryingly, where incidents of abuse were reported to people in authority at football clubs, the responses were “rarely competent” or “appropriate”.

In March 2019, Manchester City set up a multi-million-pound compensation scheme for victims of historical child sexual abuse carried out by former coaches. The report revealed that the City senior managers were aware of rumours and concerns about Barry Bennell’s conduct in the early 1980’s. It stated “The club did not investigate these rumours. It should have done so. The club should also have investigated the arrangements for boys staying at Bennell’s house.”

The report recommended introduction of safeguarding training at several levels in the game, including all players and young people, as well as the FA board and senior management team. It further recommends that there should be safeguarding officers employed by all Premier League and English Football League (EFL) clubs.

Clive Sheldon QC, who led the report stated “Understanding and acknowledging the appalling abuse suffered by young players in the period covered by the review is important for its own sake. Survivors deserve to be listened to, and their suffering deserves to be properly recognised. As well as acknowledging and facing up to what happened in the past, it is important that this terrible history is not repeated, and that everything possible is done now to safeguard the current and future generations of young players.”

It is of huge importance that preventative steps need to be taken in order to protect children and vulnerable individuals from abuse. Safeguarding steps must be implemented across all institutions that have a duty of care towards individuals within.

If you or a family member have suffered historical sexual abuse, our experienced Abuse team headed by Natalie Marrison are here to help. For a confidential discussion, please contact the Ramsdens Abuse Law team on 0113 877 1834 or send them an email.