Football abuse hotline receives “staggering surge” in calls
A dedicated football sex abuse hotline has received 860 calls in its first week, the NSPCC says.
Chief executive Peter Wanless said there had been a “staggering surge” in the number of people getting in touch.
The chief executive of funding body UK Sport said if any sport did not take enough action to deal with the issue of abuse, it would reconsider its funding.
A total of 14 police forces are now investigating allegations of historical child sex abuse in football.
The inquiries come after several former players made allegations of abuse against football coaches.
The NSPCC said that from between 23 and 29 November its hotline received 860 calls, and within the first three days of it launching, the organisation made more than 60 referrals to a range of agencies across the UK.
That was more than three times as many referrals as in the first three days of the Jimmy Savile scandal, the charity added.
Mr Wanless said it demonstrated the “worrying extent of abuse that had been going on within the sport”.
“The number of high-profile footballers bravely speaking out about their ordeal has rightly caught the attention of the entire country,” he added.
Liz Nicholl, UK Sport”s chief executive, spoke to the BBC about how other sports must react to the allegations affecting football – and what repercussions they could face if they fail to take claims seriously enough.
“We would certainly want the sport to evidence the action it”s taking to deal with the issue, and if we were concerned in any way, if there was inaction, then we would consider our funding relationship with the sport,” she said.
UK Sport allocates money from the government and National Lottery to grassroots initiatives, clubs, charities, local authorities and national governing bodies.
On Wednesday, BBC 5 live learned Essex Police had received information relating to allegations of non-recent child abuse.
Norfolk Constabulary also told the BBC it was in the early stages of an investigation into an allegation.
The Football Association has announced an internal review and a number of football clubs are conducting their own inquiries.
It was revealed on the BBC”s Victoria Derbyshire programme that the FA scrapped a flagship project in 2003 meant to ensure children were being protected from sexual abuse.
Meanwhile, former Newcastle player Derek Bell has revealed he wanted to kill the coach who sexually abused him during the 1970s.
He was groomed and abused by George Ormond between the ages of 12 and 16 while playing for the Montagu and North Fenham boys football club. Ormond was later jailed for six years for sexually assaulting young boys.
Chelsea Football Club has also confirmed it has begun an investigation into allegations of historical sexual abuse concerning a now-deceased individual it employed in the 1970s.
A number of forces including the Metropolitan Police, Greater Manchester Police and Cheshire Police had previously announced they were investigating historical allegations.
A spokesman for Essex Police said: “Essex Police has received information relating to allegations of non-recent child abuse within the football community.
“That information will be reviewed and investigated accordingly.”
He added: “We need those who have been the victim of child sexual abuse to report it to the police.
“We also urge anyone who may have any information regarding child sexual abuse to come forward.
“When allegations are reported, it enables police to assess whether there are current safeguarding risks and ensure appropriate action is taken.”
A spokesman for Norfolk Constabulary said the force was “investigating an allegation relating to child abuse within football”.
“We are in the early stages of our investigation and cannot comment any further,” he added.
Police forces investigating allegations: