Sheffield MP calls for football authorities to reach out to abuse victims

Andy Woodward was abused as a youth player at Crewe
Andy Woodward was abused as a youth player at Crewe
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Sheffield MP Clive Betts has urged football authorities to 'reach out' to victims as the sex abuse scandal grows.

Former professional player Andy Woodward, aged 43, who used to play for Sheffield United, lifted the lid on child sex abuse in football when he revealed he was abused while he was a youth player at Crewe Alexander.

Since then police forces across the country, including South Yorkshire Police, have received allegations of historic sex abuse in football.

South Yorkshire officers are looking into three claims dating back to the 1960s and 80s, the force revealed yesterday.

A hotline set up by the NSPCC received 1,700 calls in three weeks.

Ministers met with police forces, sports bodies and the NSPCC on Wednesday to address the scandal and ensure clubs have safeguarding procedures in place.

She said it is crucial police forces have the time to fully investigate all the allegations of child sexual abuse in football so parents and children can regain their confidence in the game.

During questions in The Commons, Sports Secretary Karen Bradley said: "We want to make sure that parents and young people have the confidence to participate in sport.

"We need to know what happened, we need to make sure the victims come forward and the police have the time to carry out investigations and that there is confidence in the system.

"The round-table I chaired yesterday was incredibly helpful in fleshing out where we can do more, because we can always do more. But also to give reassurance that so much is being done."

Labour MP Clive Betts, who represents Sheffield South East, urged ministers to make sure the authorities are pro-actively reaching out to those who may have been coached by abusers, rather than waiting for victims to call the hotline.

He said: "I am sure we are all appalled at the allegations of the horrific abuse that has come out which have besmirched the game that many of us loved so much, in recent weeks.

"We are aware of the helpline which is available for people to phone up and relay what happened to them.

"Has the secretary of state had conversations now with the football authorities about what more can be done pro-actively to identify those people who were involved with the abusers in the past, had contact with them, and actually assist them in every way to come forward with a very difficult decision to relate what happened to them?"

Ms Bradley said she has spoken to the FA, Premier League, the English Football League and the Professional Footballers' Association 'to make sure that we are identifying those people who may have been victims and have not yet had the confidence to come forward'.

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