NSPCC launches sexual abuse hotline for footballers

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A leading children's charity has launched a dedicated helpline as footballers speak up about sexual abuse in the game.

The NSPCC initiative comes after a series of shocking revelations this week about sexual abuse in the national game, with professional footballers Andy Woodward, Steve Walters and Paul Stewart speaking up this week about the abuse they suffered as young footballers.

The dedicated helpline was launched with support of FA, and the charity is urging others to come forward as Childline figures show that boys are five times less likely to speak up about sexual abuse than girls.

The Durham FA has already moved to quell fears about abuse in the game in the area, and laid out what the organisation is doing to prevent such cases.

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: “There must be no hiding place for sexual abuse in our national game and there may be many others who suffered through such horrors as young players but have never come forward.

“As this week’s revelations have 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.”

“We welcome the FA’s commitment to helping those in the game get the help and support they need.”

Sue Ravenlaw, Head of Equality and Safeguarding from the FA said: “The courage and dignity being shown by Andy Woodward, Steve Walters and Paul Stewart is immense.”

“We join Andy, the police and others in the continued efforts to encourage more victims and survivors to come forward. We urge people to utilise this specific NSPCC helpline to gain support and advice.”

Staffed by independent, experienced NSPCC professionals, the football helpline will offer support and guidance for victims of childhood sexual abuse within the game.

The hotline will be available 24 hours a day on 0800 023 2642.

In 2015/16 Childline conducted 1,193 counselling sessions with boys about sexual abuse, compared with 6,486 girls.

The NSPCC has worked with the FA since the late 1990s on child protection and safeguarding. Since 2010 the FA has met the NSPCC’s highest recommended safeguarding standards.

In addition to the new NSPCC helpline, referrals of concerns about recent and non-recent abuse can continue to be made directly via the designated persons’ network in football, or directly to The FA’s safeguarding team viasafeguarding@thefa.com.