FA to begin inquest into child abuse allegations

England's Football Association appointed independent leading counsel Kate Gallafent, a child protection expert, to assist it with an internal review of the allegations of sexual abuse in junior football.
England's Football Association appointed independent leading counsel Kate Gallafent, a child protection expert, to assist it with an internal review of the allegations of sexual abuse in junior football. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/ENGLAND FOOTBALL TEAM

LONDON • England's Football Association (FA) is investigating allegations of sexual abuse in junior football after several former players came forward to say they were molested by youth coaches.

The FA yesterday appointed independent leading counsel Kate Gallafent, a child protection expert, to assist it with an internal review of the allegations. The football governing body said the review would find out "what information the FA was aware of at the relevant times around the issues that have been raised in the press, what clubs were aware of, and what action was or should have been taken".

Gallafent will then make recommendations "to ensure these situations can never be repeated".

Several former footballers have spoken out about being abused after ex-Crewe player Andy Woodward revealed his abuse at the hands of convicted child abuser Barry Bennell in the 1980s.

Gordon Taylor, chief executive of Britain's Professional Footballers' Association, said the number of players who had made similar allegations was now more than 20, with up to seven clubs concerned.

"From that time, of those who became apprentices and senior players, over 20 players have come forward," Taylor told the BBC.

Asked to name the clubs touched by the allegations, he said: "We'd start at Crewe, go to Man City, Stoke, Blackpool, Newcastle, Leeds... I'm expecting there will be more. We have six or seven clubs."

Bennell has been identified as an abuser by former players including Woodward, Steve Walters, David White and Ian Ackley.

Anthony Hughes, who played for England at the 1993 World Youth Championships, yesterday became the latest player to make allegations against Bennell. Four British police forces are looking into it.

Crewe, where Bennell worked as a youth coach, announced on Saturday they have appointed an external legal counsel to carry out an independent review into the way they dealt with the allegations.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 28, 2016, with the headline 'FA to begin inquest into child abuse allegations'. Print Edition | Subscribe