The football child sex abuse scandal is one of the biggest crises in the history of the Football Association, says chairman Greg Clarke.
More than 20 ex-footballers have made allegations of child sex abuse, with five separate police investigations and an FA review launched in response.
Clarke said he was “angry” that “1990s society was sleep walking and we were part of that problem”.
He defended the FA inquiry from criticism it should be much wider.
On Monday, MP Damian Collins said an inquiry needed to establish if there was a cultural problem in the sport, rather than an internal review looking at football officials and what clubs knew and when.
Clarke said: “The moral consequences of failing to deal with some of these issues in the past we must get to the bottom of.”
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.
Former Crewe player Andy Woodward was the first to speak out about the abuse he suffered as a child by convicted paedophile and former Crewe coach Barry Bennell.
Five police forces – Cheshire, Hampshire, Northumbria, the Metropolitan Police and Greater Manchester – are investigating allegations of historical sexual abuse.
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Asked if it was the biggest crisis in the FA’s history, Clarke told BBC Sport: “I think it’s certainly the biggest one I can remember.”
And asked if the FA acted quickly enough, he added: “I think we’ve acted very quickly, to be frank.
“The main thing to do is not to encumber the criminal investigations of the police by tainting their evidence.
“We’ve agreed with the police that we won’t talk to any of the victims formally, because they have to talk to them, they have to take statements and we’re not allowed to interfere in that process.”
Clarke said he would not be speaking to any of his predecessors so as not to “taint the evidence”. He said QC Kate Gallafent would lead the inquiry.
“I don’t want to be accused of turning this into an old boys’ inquiry, where all the people in football are talking to each other to make sure it’s a manageable outcome,” he said.
“She will lead it, it will be her conclusions, we will act upon those conclusions and those conclusions will be disclosed.”
Was there a cover-up?
Asked whether there was a cover-up of allegations of abuse in the game, Clarke replied that he “really didn’t know” and said he was “not ruling out anything because I haven’t got any facts yet”.
“I think institutionally, all organisations in the old days used to protect themselves by keeping quiet and closing ranks. That’s completely inappropriate and unacceptable today.
“I don’t think we can ever say things are clean, because our job is to be paranoid about the safety of children in our game. Every year, we need to assume that bad things are happening and make sure our processes, training and investment are as good as they can be.
“We do that every year, overseen by the NSPCC. You’ll never see complacency at the FA.”
What else has happened?
- On Tuesday, former darts world champion Eric Bristow 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”.
- On Monday, it emerged that ex-Crewe coach Barry Bennell had been taken to hospital after being found unconscious at an address in Stevenage on Friday.
- Bennell, who also worked for Manchester City, Stoke and junior teams in north-west England and the Midlands, has been jailed three times – most recently in 2015 after admitting abusing a boy at a 1980 football camp in Macclesfield.
- After Woodward spoke out, 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.
- Crewe have launched an independent inquiry.
- PFA chairman Gordon Taylor said six or seven clubs were connected to allegations so far including Stoke, Newcastle, Blackpool, Manchester City and Leeds.
- Other former youth and trainee footballers have spoken out, with the NSPCC receiving more than 100 calls to its dedicated football sex abuse hotline
- Fifa and Uefa are monitoring the ongoing allegations
Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/38144425