FIFA 'monitoring' sexual abuse allegations in English football
FA investigating alleged past sexual abuse
At least 20 players have come forward
FIFA is now “monitoring” widespread allegations of sexual abuse in English soccer, the world governing body said Monday.
England’s Football Association (FA) launched an internal investigation into the allegations Sunday after more than 20 players came forward alleging abuse in their youth, according to England’s Professional Footballers Association (PFA).
The PFA’s chief executive Gordon Taylor adding that “six or seven clubs” were potentially implicated.
“We are aware of the allegations,” said a FIFA statement. “FIFA considers the protection of children and young people as fundamental in football and we will monitor the situation closely.”
At least four UK police departments are investigating separate allegations and the FA said it will work closely with police to “ensure we do not do anything to interfere with or jeopardize the criminal process,” according to a statement from the English governing body.
A hotline set up for victims who suffered abuse while playing soccer as children received over 50 phone calls shortly after being set up on Thursday.
Journalist Deborah Davies, who worked on a 1997 TV documentary about abuse in football, said the FA ignored “so many warnings.”
“Let’s find out exactly what you knew, when you knew it and what you didn’t do about it,” Davies told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
The internal investigation – led by lawyer Kate Gallafent – will focus on what the FA and individual clubs knew at the time of the alleged abuses and “what action was or should have been taken,” the English governing body statement said.
One club, Crewe Alexandra Football, said Sunday it has launched a “review of the way the club dealt with historical child abuse allegations,” after former Sheffield United player Andy Woodward publicly told his story explaining how he was abused by coach Barry Bennell while playing for the club in the 1980s and 1990s.
Cheshire Police, in northern England, said Friday they had received a “growing number of disclosures” relating to “non-recent child sexual abuse linked to football.”
“These have included allegations made against more than one individual,” police said in a statement.
The allegations have rocked England’s soccer world. On Friday, the captain of England’s national team Wayne Rooney urged victims to use the hotline.
“It’s awful that some of my colleagues have suffered this way whilst playing the sport that I and they love,” Rooney said.
CNN’s James Masters, Angela Dewan and Sebastian Shukla contributed to this story