A children’t charity has set up a football hotline after four former footballers revealed they had been sexually abused by coaches when they were children.
In several interviews that have rocked the sport this week former Crewe Alexandra players Andy Woodward and Steve Walters, as well as ex-Manchester City player David White and ex-Tottenham and Liverpool star Paul Stewart have told their stories of abuse.
And now the NSPCC has launched a new hotline to allow any young people with concerns to report them. It is available 24 hours a day and cant be reached on 0800 023 2642.
“There must be no hiding place for sexual abuse in our national game,” NSPCC chief Peter Wanless said.
“As this week’s revelations have been laid bare, 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 FA’s commitment to helping those in the game get the help and support they need.”
The revelations began this week when Woodward spoke out about his abuse at the hands of former Crewe coach Barry Bennell, a convicted paedophile.
Walters, Stewart and White then came forward.
White, who played for Manchester City and England, said the abuse took place while he played for a junior football side in Manchester during the 1970s and early 1980s.
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He said: “For a number of reasons, and for nearly two decades, I kept my ordeal secret from my family and friends.
“While I believe throughout my football career I have come to terms with what had happened, I now realise the effects of Bennell’s actions were much more far-reaching than I knew then.
“Last year I made the decision to gather my thoughts, reflect on my experience, and tell my life story in my own words. I did not set out to write a story about the abuse, but knew I would have to include it.
“In doing so I have come to terms with the fact that Bennell’s actions influenced almost every event and relationship in my life.”
Bennell served nine years in prison in 1998 for sex offences against children after admitting to charges against six boys aged nine to 15.
Stewart told the Mirror how he had been abused by an unnamed coach on a daily basis up to the age of 15.
PFA chief Gordon Taylor has warned that more former footballers could come forward following the bravery of those that have chosen to publicly speak of what happened to them.
“Because of Woodward’s bravery, many other ex-players and apprentices are now contacting us – it is double figures now – and that is a timely warning for everybody in football about our duty of care to these youngsters.
“It is up to all of us now to grasp the nettle and we make sure we learn from this.
“I want all players, even those who didn’t make the grade, to feel that the PFA is a safe haven of support for them. We will help with counselling, treatment, whatever they need.”