The recent football-related child abuse revelations have shocked and moved many Football Supporters' Federation members. The question of abuse in football is not just an issue for clubs and the national authorities, it concerns everyone involved in the game, in whatever capacity.
Many supporters are parents, and we make specific efforts to attract the next generation of fans to the game. Many supporters have themselves been through the system of youth football and been coached as youngsters and may feel personally affected by the revelations. In the circumstances, it is appropriate that the views of football supporters are heard on this difficult subject.
- The Football Supporters Federation acknowledges the courage of those who have come forward to reveal the widespread nature of abuse, and encourage all those with knowledge of abuse in football to come forward.
- The FSF offers its full support to anyone who has suffered abuse in football in particular those survivors who have come forward.
- The FSF calls upon The FA to ensure that free access to counselling and support is provided for all survivors.
- The FSF commends The FA for the steps taken in recent times for improving awareness, training and safeguarding procedures across the game.
- The FSF calls on the authorities to ensure that the full force of the law is brought to bear on those found guilty of any crime.
- The FSF calls upon the FA to ban any ‘participant’ in the game who is found guilty of sexual abuse or bullying behaviour.
- The FSF wholeheartedly supports, and will co-operate fully with, any enquiries undertaken by any of the national football authorities, or the police and urge all supporters to co-operate if required.
- The FSF believes the interest of the survivors comes first. The aim of an inquiry should be to root out abuse and the abusers from our game. There should be no cover ups for past failings and no hiding place for abusers. There must be confidence in the thoroughness of any inquiry. We believe that it is in the interests of the survivors and the game of football more widely that an inquiry goes beyond a review of procedures and paperwork.
- The FSF commends The FA for recognising the need for an investigation. However, we believe that it is in the best interests not only of the survivors but also of The FA itself and the wider game for the inquiry to be independent and given investigative powers. The FSF calls upon Parliament immediately to establish a statutory inquiry with a forensic investigation team to identify and deal with those persons and organisations in the game that have failed to report allegations of child sexual abuse of young people to the authorities and so uphold their duty of care.
- The FSF calls on all supporters, particularly of those football clubs (at whatever level) who have made no statement on the subject, to ask their clubs to confirm that they have implemented robust safeguarding procedures in accordance with the law and best practice.
- Any supporter who has concerns about abuse, either of persons known to them or about any particular club or organisation, should contact the appropriate authorities through FA and League arrangements or through the NSPCC. Details can be found below.
The Football Abuse Helpline (set-up by the FA with the NSPCC) is available 24 hours a day on 0800 023 2642. You can also contact NSPCC (0808 800 5000) or ChildLine (0800 1111). The Offside Trust is an independent trust set up by survivors of abuse in football to support players and their families. Anyone who has information regarding child abuse should phone the police on 101 or 999 (emergency).