Bristow loses Sky role after abuse victim comments

Eric Bristow

Eric Bristow had been involved with Sky Sports’ darts coverage since the early 1990s

Former darts world champion Eric Bristow has lost his role with Sky Sports after suggesting that football abuse victims are not “proper men”.

Bristow asked on Twitter why victims did not “sort out” their abusers “when they got older and fitter”.

More than 20 ex-footballers have made allegations of child sex abuse.

“He was a contributor to our darts coverage in the past but we will not be using him in the future,” said a Sky spokesman.

Former Crewe player Steve Walters, one of the footballers to have come forward, said he was “disgusted” by Bristow’s remarks.

Walters has alleged he was abused as a youth player by convicted paedophile and former Crewe coach Barry Bennell.

Several former footballers have waived their right to anonymity in order to go public and raise awareness of alleged historical abuse in football, a step which has won praise from politicians, sport administrators and abuse charities.

Five police forces – Cheshire, Hampshire, Northumbria, the Metropolitan Police and Greater Manchester – are investigating allegations of historical sexual abuse.

Bristow, who was made an MBE in 1989, suggested that darts players were “tough guys” and footballers “wimps”.

He added the victims should not be able to look themselves in the mirror for not “getting their own back” on their abusers in adulthood.

In addition to his comments on sex abuse victims, Bristow caused anger by conflating paedophiles with homosexuals in a tweet that read: “Might be a loony but if some football coach was touching me when I was a kid, as I got older I would have went back and sorted that poof out.”

Bristow has since deleted each of those tweets.

Duncan Craig, chief executive of the charity Survivors Manchester, said he has reported Bristow’s tweets to Staffordshire Police as a “hate crime”.

The charity, which supports male victims of sex crimes, now has Walters as an ambassador.

Craig said of Bristow: “His comments are absolutely appalling.

“Bristow is ill-educated but that’s not a crime. However, calling someone derogatory homosexual terms is a hate crime in my view.

“The reason many men don’t speak out is because they feel less of man, feel judged, feel ashamed. Bristow is perpetuating those myths to his 93,000 followers – that’s why I’m taking such a strong stance.”

What’s happened so far?

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Footballers speak out over sexual abuse

Former Crewe player Andy Woodward was the first to speak out about the abuse he suffered as a child at the hands of Bennell.

Ex-Crewe youth team players Walters, Chris Unsworth and Jason Dunford later told BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme they had also been abused by the former coach.

Ex-England and Manchester City striker David White also says he is another victim of Bennell, while former Tottenham, Liverpool and England midfielder Paul Stewart also waived his right to anonymity to speak publicly about being sexually abused by an unnamed coach.

Stewart said the sport could face allegations on the scale of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Bennell, who also worked for Manchester City, Stoke and junior teams in north-west England and the Midlands, was given a four-year sentence for raping a British boy on a football tour of Florida in 1994 and a nine-year sentence in 1998 for 23 offences against six boys in England.

He was jailed for a third time in 2015 after admitting abusing a boy at a 1980 football camp in Macclesfield.

On Monday, it emerged that Bennell had been taken to hospital after being found unconscious at an address in Stevenage on Friday.

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