SFA Offers Support To Players Amid Coach Abuse Revelations

25 November 2016, 13:34

The Scottish Football Association has joined the campaign supporting players who suffered abuse by coaches to speak out in the wake of revelations south of the border.

Fraser Wishart, chief executive of players' union PFA Scotland, said it would be ''naive to think that these allegations are unique to one part of the UK'' and vowed to protect any players that come forward.

A dedicated NSPCC helpline was set up on Thursday with the support of the Football Association, English football's governing body, and received more than 50 calls by 10am.

It came in response to retired players Andy Woodward, Steve Walters, Paul Stewart and David White coming forward to talk about the abuse they suffered as young footballers.

Woodward, Walters and White were victims of Barry Bennell, a youth coach and scout with links to Crewe Alexandra, Manchester City and Stoke, while Stewart was abused by another youth coach.

The SFA is now urging players and others involved in football from grassroots to the professional game to speak up using the confidential, 24-hour counselling service.

Donna Martin, SFA child protection manager, said: ''The safety and wellbeing of children is of paramount importance to the Scottish FA and significant steps have been taken to ensure that their protection is integral to Scottish football's decision-making processes.

''The SFA takes its role as the governing body of the national game seriously.

''We would urge anyone with any information relating to abuse or inappropriate behaviour - whether current or historic - to get in touch via the NSPCC's helpline, or childrenswellbeing@scottishfa.co.uk.''

Mr Wishart said: ''The players who have come forward in England already have shown great courage and bravery.

''It would be naive to think that these allegations are unique to one part of the UK and, mindful of our responsibilities, we are pleased to be working with the Scottish FA to help create a safe environment for any player or former player - regardless of their level of participation - to come forward.

''The game has a duty of care to protect its players and we have been in dialogue with the governing body to ensure an integrated approach to a matter we take extremely seriously.''

NSPCC figures show that boys are more than five times less likely to speak up about sexual abuse than girls, but the charity hope the example of former players can encourage more to speak out.

Matt Forde, NSPCC Scotland national head of service, said: ''There must be no hiding place for sexual abuse in football and many adults may have suffered such horrors as young players but have never come forward.

''As this week's revelations have shown, people must be able to speak out and get the help they need, and we know that can often be more difficult for men and boys.

''We welcome the commitment of the Scottish FA and PFA Scotland to help those in the game get the support they need.''