Children’s charity the NSPCC has launched a football hotline after four ex-players spoke publicly about being sexually abused by coaches as children.
Former Manchester City player David White, ex-Crewe players Andy Woodward and Steve Walters, and ex-Tottenham forward Paul Stewart have spoken out.
The dedicated NSPCC hotline is supported by the Football Association.
“There must be no hiding place for sexual abuse in our national game,” NSPCC chief Peter Wanless said.
“There may be many others who suffered through such horrors as young players but have never come forward.”
The hotline will be available 24 hours a day on 0800 023 2642.
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Woodward, 43, initially went public last week about his abuse as a child by former Crewe coach and youth football scout Barry Bennell, who was later convicted for sex offences against children.
Cheshire Police said 11 people had since come forward, including Walters, 44, who says he was also a victim of Bennell.
The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) said it expects that number to rise.
Former England player White, 49, also says Bennell – who was jailed for nine years in 1998 – abused him between 1979 and 1980 while he was playing for Whitehill FC junior team in Manchester.
Stewart, 52, a former England international who started his career at Blackpool and also played for Manchester City and Liverpool, told the Mirror an unnamed coach abused him daily for four years up to the age of 15.
“As this week’s revelations have been laid bare, people must be able to speak out and get the help they need, and we know that can often be more difficult for men and boys,” added Wanless.
“We welcome the FA’s commitment to helping those in the game get the help and support they need.”
The children’s charity said boys are more than five times less likely to speak up about sexual abuse than girls.
The FA’s head of equality and safeguarding, Sue Ravenlaw, said the “courage and dignity” shown by the footballers who have spoken out was “immense”.
Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/38087552