Fifa will give child abusers the boot

FIFA President Gianni Infantino attends a media briefing after the Fifa Executive Football Summit in Singapore on Dec 8, 2016.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino attends a media briefing after the Fifa Executive Football Summit in Singapore on Dec 8, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

Fifa president Gianni Infantino has promised that the world football body will adopt a zero-tolerance approach towards child sex abuse and that offenders will be banned.

In Singapore for the three-day Fifa executive football summit which ended yesterday, he was responding to a question about the child sex abuse scandal currently enveloping English football, one which has shocked the world, with more than 300 people alleging that they had been abused by coaches.

Speaking to the local and international media at the Four Seasons Singapore, he said: "There are not many worse things in life - not only in football life but also in life generally - than child (sex) abuse, so it has to be taken seriously.

"There must be zero tolerance from a football perspective and also from a criminal perspective.

"Those who have been guilty of abusing young children need to be punished very seriously, they have to be out of football - that is without question."

Those who have spoken up include former England and Tottenham footballer Paul Stewart, former Crewe Alexandra players Andy Woodward and Steve Walters and former Newcastle players Derek Bell and David Eatock.

The Football Association (FA) has launched an internal review, with FA chairman Greg Dyke calling it one of the biggest crises in the history of the organisation.

Infantino added that Fifa will see if it can do more to prevent potential child sex abuse in the future.

He said: "We probably have to look into the case more, and pay more care and more attention to prevent any potential child sex abuse in the future."

The Times of London reported on Wednesday that Aston Villa and Leicester have become the two latest clubs to be drawn into the scandal. The FA's internal review is expected to probe incidents involving a scout, the late Ted Langford, who was linked to both clubs and also ran a youth team in Birmingham.

In 2007, he was jailed for sexually abusing four youth footballers in the 1970s and 1980s.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 09, 2016, with the headline 'Fifa will give child abusers the boot'. Print Edition | Subscribe