If you have experienced physical, sexual, or emotional abuse whilst participating in a sporting environment, you are not alone.

Sports coaches are placed in a position of trust and owe a duty of care to the children they coach, and sometimes that trust is abused. In March 2021, child abuse laws were changed to include sports coaches, banning them from engaging in sexual activity with 16- or 17-year olds in their care, despite them being above the age of consent in the UK.

Whilst it has taken countless years British Sport has finally started to act against, bullying, abuse, and sexualisation, which have too often been ignored in the pursuit of athletic success in sports such as gymnastics, swimming, football, and athletics.


On the 15th May 2023, the chair of British Gymnastics, Mike Darcey called on the government to establish an independent welfare body to protect athletes across the sport.

This follows the Whyte Report which, in July 2020, found horrifying cases of bullying, abuse, and discrimination within British Gymnastics Clubs from coaches and staff involved within clubs from national level clubs to local gyms.

Since the publishing of the report, there are said to have been 1,326 cases raised with the Welfare and Safe Sport Team with Farleys assisting claimants in their pursuit of justice at both amateur and elite level.


In March 2023 Swim England issued an apology over abuse and bullying claims, promising to conduct an independent review into matters.

In a similar manner to Gymnastics, swimmers have reported relentless bullying, humiliating public weigh-ins, fat shaming, and excessive training practices from coaches with many swimmers said to have been scared to speak out for fear of being treated worse or kicked off their team.


In 2016 allegations came to light regarding the abuse of young players at Crewe Alexandra, Manchester City, Chelsea, Newcastle United, Southampton, and Peterborough.

Within a month of the initial reporting, the Football Association and over 20 UK police forces had established various enquiries and investigations with over 350 alleged victims coming forward. In 2018 an independent inquiry was launched by the Football Association noting “significant institutional failings”.

Whilst progress has been made within football clubs across the country and by the Football Association over the past few years, generations of young footballers have suffered horrific sexual and physical abuse because of the wholesale absence of child protection policies, ignorance, and naivety, and this should not be ignored.


British Athletics is currently in the process of reviewing historical complaints of abuse in sport with a view to increasing sanctions against previous offenders.

On the 8th March 2023 Fuzz Caan, a top British athletics coach was handed a three-year ban for misconduct after he admitted using abusive language, fat-shaming and mocking-disabled people.

Whilst there may have been failings by British Athletics in the past, it is encouraging to see that justice is now being served and that steps are being implemented to ensure that children and athletes are safeguarded at all levels of the sport.

Contact a Specialist in Sports Coaches Abuse Claims

If you or someone you know has suffered due to abuse by sports or athletics coaches, we are here for you at Farleys Solicitors. We are specialists in child abuse cases, with more than 20 years of experience behind us in these cases. That means we understand how much courage it takes for you to speak out about abuse, and how difficult it can be when you do.

Our abuse claims specialists at Farleys have many years of experience acting for people who have experienced abuse at the hands of their sports coaches while under the age of 18, and assisted them in their search for closure. We have successfully secured damages for clients to allow them to access the therapy and support they need to move on with their lives.

Even if the abuse happened many years ago, a claim for historic child abuse can still be made. The effects of abuse during childhood never truly go away, but a successful resolution can bring the same sense of justice and closure as a criminal prosecution – which can be particularly important if the abuser in question has escaped criminal proceedings.

We have helped athletes and competitors in sports including (but not limited to):

  • Gymnastics
  • Tennis
  • Football
  • Swimming
  • Athletics
  • Cycling

For a confidential chat with one of our specialists, please call our dedicated abuse line on 0330 134 6430. Alternatively, you can contact us by email by completing our online contact form or use the chat below and a member of the team will get in touch with you.