International

Scottish football needs 'sea-change' to prevent abuse

2018-07-26 19:41
(iStock)

London - Child-protection measures in Scottish football are "not fit for purpose", according to a damning review into allegations of sexual abuse within the sport published on Thursday.

The independent report called for a "significant and serious sea-change" in the culture of the the game, played by almost 100,000 young people in the country, issuing nearly 100 recommendations.

"The time for such change is overdue," the interim report said.

The SFA commissioned the review at the end of 2016 following an "unprecedented" number of allegations of non-recent sexual abuse in the sport, mainly said to have occurred in the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s.

The review panel talked to 236 individuals. A total of 22 people came forward with allegations of historical sexual abuse concerning 10 alleged abusers.

Allegations ranged from sexualised language and indecent assault to rape, the report said.

The report found some progress has been made in relation to child protection issues in recent years but highlighted a number of areas for improvement.

It called for the Scottish Football Association (SFA) to improve its capacity to respond to allegations of non-recent sexual abuse.

"The current structure of the Scottish FA and Scottish football is not fit for purpose in relation to the safeguarding of young people, clarity of accountability and the reduction of risk," the report said.

"An over-complex structure, lack of leadership and inadequate governance in relation to 'child protection' has also contributed to risk and general ineffectiveness."

"Scottish football urgently requires a comprehensive safeguarding strategy which involves the entire game beyond the governing body alone," it added.

The document is an interim report, with the final report being withheld until all relevant criminal proceedings are concluded.

It has however, completed its findings and made 96 recommendations, with all but one issued on Thursday.

Recommendations include that all arrangements for team trips should be properly risk-assessed and a full review of all roles in football is undertaken.

Contributors to the review told how they believe football-related sexual abuse had contributed to the deaths of some people through either suicide or substance abuse.

The report stated: "It is an outcome that is absolutely unacceptable and we owe it to these people, and all those affected, to ensure that the price they have paid is not in vain."

The SFA said its board has sanctioned the appointment of a manager to implement the recommendations, and a safeguarding advisory group is to be set up.

SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell said: "On behalf of Scottish football I would like to offer my most heartfelt apology to those with personal experience of sexual abuse in our national game.

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