Sadly the abuse of children has always taken place. Once victims of abuse felt they could not come forward and make complaints, afraid that they would not be believed, afraid that the fame and celebrity of those who had abused them would hide their crimes and protect them from an investigation.
Over the course of the last couple of years, the scale of this abuse has become all too apparent. A number of in-depth investigations have taken place into the activities of the late Jimmy Savile and others. Several high profile celebrities have been successfully prosecuted and imprisoned.
At last victims of abuse are being believed and their complaints are taken seriously rather than being dismissed.
So we should not be surprised to learn that allegations have been made that children and young people taking part in amateur and professional football were – are perhaps being – abused both physically and sexually. These events are said to have taken place in football “camps”, on training grounds and other places.
Many abusers use threats to instil fear into those they abuse. Those involved in football have additional leverage to keep their victims silent; the promise of advancement in the game. The rewards for the relatively few who succeed in the professional game are incredibly attractive.
These events have taken place over a very long period of time. In some instances, the abusers have retired from football. Some have died. In many cases, the victims of abuse – then children – have become adults. Yet they continue to bear the scars of abuse many years after the event.
In December 2016, the Football Association acting in conjunction with the NSPCC launched a helpline for the benefit of people who were the victims of abuse whilst involved in amateur and professional football. They were probably surprised and distressed by the very large number of people who responded.
Some victims of abuse will be content to make formal complaints. Some will lodge complaints with the Police. Various forces throughout the country are currently investigating allegations of physical and sexual abuse.
For others, a compensation claim may be appropriate. Each case will turn on its facts.
People who have been abused – physically or sexually – whilst taking part in amateur or professional football, should not be reluctant to take legal advice. They should do so right away.
Our team of experts have long experience in the field of abuse work, having represented clients abused in care homes, schools and in organisations connected to the church. We are fully aware of the very sensitive issues these type of cases raise. We are here to help you through the process should you wish to bring a claim.