NSPCC launches football hotline for sexual abuse victims

NSPCC urges players and others to come forward as Childline figures show that across the UK boys are five times less likely to speak up about sexual abuse.
NSPCC urges players and others to come forward as Childline figures show that across the UK boys are five times less likely to speak up about sexual abuse.

Following a series of shocking revelations this week about sexual abuse in English football, the NSPCC has launched a dedicated hotline for victims of abuse across the UK which is being supported by the Scottish FA.

The launch of the free, independent helpline number on Thursday (November 24) follows former professional footballers Andy Woodward, Steve Walters and Paul Stewart speaking up this week about the abuse they suffered as young footballers in England.

NSPCC figures show that across the UK boys are over five times less likely to speak up about sexual abuse than girls. In 2015/16 Childline conducted 1,193 counselling sessions with boys about sexual abuse, compared with 6,486 girls. Of these, 284 were conducted with girls contacting the service from Scotland with just 27 being held with boys.

The NSPCC and Scottish FA are now urging players and others involved in football from grassroots to the professional game to speak up using the NSPCC football hotline.

Staffed by independent, experienced NSPCC professionals, the helpline will offer support and guidance for victims of childhood sexual abuse within the game.

The hotline will be available 24 hours a day on 0800 023 2642.

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 Scottish FA’s commitment to help those in the game get the support they need.”

Donna Martin, Scottish FA Child Wellbeing and 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 Scottish FA 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”