Belfast Telegraph

Football sex abuse probe will ensure lessons are learned, vows FA

The official probe into child sexual abuse allegations in football will ensure any failings by the authorities or clubs "are brought to light", the English Football Association has said.

The FA also said its review will "ensure that lessons are learned such that any identified failings are not repeated".

It made the pledge as it said a different lawyer would be leading the probe - Clive Sheldon QC instead of Kate Gallafent QC - "in the light of the increased scope of the review".

Outlining its terms of reference, it said: "The overriding objectives of the review are to ensure that any possible failings by the FA and clubs at the relevant time are brought to light and to ensure that lessons are learned such that any identified failings are not repeated."

The organisation said Mr Sheldon, whose past work includes several reviews involving child protection and safeguarding, will investigate "what steps the FA took to address safeguarding/child protection issues in the sport up until 2005, and to consider any failings by the FA at the time, in particular whether it failed to act appropriately to anything raised with it relating to child sexual abuse".

The announcement came as Championship club QPR became the latest to be drawn into the storm.

The west London club said it was aware of historical child abuse allegations involving former chief scout Chris Gieler and will co-operate with any investigations.

Mr Gieler left QPR in 2003 and died in 2004.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has become the latest UK force to launch investigations into allegations of abuse in football.

Officers said they had received a "small number" of reports of historic abuse at clubs.

A PSNI spokeswoman said: " We have had a very small number of allegations of non-recent child sexual abuse linked to football clubs.

"We work closely with all of the sporting bodies to ensure effective safeguarding is in place."

Democratic Unionist Gregory Campbell said the allegations must be rigorously investigated and has called for a co-ordinated approach.

The East Londonderry MP said: "The allegations of sexual abuse linked to football clubs are disturbing and it is vital they are fully investigated in a way that ensures full public confidence.

"Sports clubs, including the many football clubs in Northern Ireland are run largely by volunteers who give of their time freely and provide a very valuable service to the community.

"It is important that allegations made relating to Northern Ireland are properly and fully investigated so that perpetrators are brought to justice. It is obviously important that clubs have proper processes in place to ensure they are safe places for our young people."

In a statement the Irish Football Association (IFA) said: "The Irish FA will work fully with the police and relevant authorities on any allegations of abuse linked to football in Northern Ireland.

"The association would encourage anyone involved in football that has suffered abuse to call the NSPCC football hotline on 0800 023 2642."


From Belfast Telegraph