One of the biggest child abuse scandals has emerged in the United Kingdom football clubs’ history, starting from the 1970s. So far 526 victims and 184 suspects have been identified and investigations are still going on to uncover others.
A widespread inquiry has been opened up across the UK after former player Andy Woodward revealed in November that he had been abused as a boy by a youth team coach. Since Woodward’s revelation, other ex-professionals have also come forward with their allegations. Apart from football, other sports are also being investigated for similar incidents.
According to analysts, the scale of wrongdoing is estimated to be worse than in the case of TV star Jimmy Savile, who was a BBC television host who had abused hundreds of young boys over a course of sixty years until the time he died in 2011.
So far 526 victims have been identified and this number has increased from 350 from just last month. The National Police Chiefs Council reported that 248 football clubs have been impacted and the number is expected to increase as the investigations deepen further. It was also revealed that so far 1,016 referrals of sports abuse have been reported to specialist detectives from a child protection charity and police. The officials also revealed that 22 of the referrals related too other sports which include rugby, gymnastics, martial arts, tennis, wrestling, golf, sailing, athletics, cricket, and swimming.
“Allegations of non-recent child sexual abuse are complex, often require specialist skills and knowledge, and can take time to progress,” said Chief Constable Simon Bailey, the national police lead on child protection.
“However, all allegations and information received by police forces across the country are being acted upon,” he added.