In November 2016, former footballer Andy Woodward spoke out about being the victim of sexual abuse, from age 11 to 15, whilst playing as a junior for Crewe Alexandra. Following this, the NSPCC and the Football Association (FA) launched a hotline dedicated to footballers who had experienced sexual abuse. Within the first week, the hotline received over 860 calls.
An independent review into the sexual abuse within the FA, published in March 2021, found that the FA ‘did not do enough to keep children safe.’ It found that the response of the FA was ‘too slow’ between October 1995 and May 2000 in establishing child protection measures. This resulted in ‘significant institutional failings for which there is no excuse.’ The review considers sexual abuse within the FA between 1970 and 2005.
It found that the FA failed to ban two of the most notorious perpetrators of the abuse from their involvement in football. Additionally, it found where incidents of abuse were reported the responses of clubs were ‘rarely competent or appropriate.’
Following Andy Woodward and several other footballers speaking out about the abuse they were victim to, several clubs, including Crewe Alexandra and Manchester City, launched their own reviews into the abuse faced within the club. In March 2019, Manchester City set up a multimillion-pound compensation scheme for victims of historical sexual abuse inflicted by coaches at the club. Aston Villa and Leicester have also paid out damages to victims of historic sexual abuse.
Former Manchester City, Tottenham and Liverpool player Paul Stewart, a victim of historic sexual abuse, has criticised the review for not showing ‘how damaging the effects of abuse have been to individuals.’ Andy Woodward has openly spoken about the ‘catastrophic’ impact the abuse had on his life.
Julian Knight MP commented that ‘there can be no excuses for the critical delays to act’ and that ‘we could be looking at the biggest safeguarding scandal in football’s history.’
Farleys Solicitors have represented many victims of sexual abuse within the FA, at clubs including Manchester City, Chelsea, Crewe and Blackpool. Survivors of abuse may be entitled to Criminal Injuries Compensation Award (CICA) and potentially be able to present a claim directly against the football club also.
The fundamental priority in these cases is to ensure that those affected by abuse in football are able to access the support they require as they attempt to come to terms with their experience and Farleys’ abuse specialists have unrivalled experience in this area. In our pursuit for compensation for survivors we will always consider the ways in which their experience has had an impact on their past and present, but also consider any future effects, both psychological and physical, to ensure valuable resources for survivors to enable them to move on with their lives.
We understand it can be extremely difficult to discuss your experiences so we have a number of ways in which you can contact us; call our dedicated abuse line on 0330 134 6430, submit your enquiry through our online form, or you can speak to our team via our online chat at the bottom of this page.