Football has been rocked by a serious of abuse allegations from youth players who say they suffered sexual assaults at the hands of coaches. Now, police say they fully expect the scandal to spread to other sports.
A senior policeman is expecting a significant increase in the number of sportspeople coming forward to say that they have been attacked. The police chief has issued a warning to the governing bodies of all sports that they should be prepared for more victims to speak out.
Chief Constable Simon Baily, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for child protection said that he was expecting a “significant” number of other alleged abuse victims to come foward.
His warnings come as four police forces have confirmed they are investigating allegations of historical child sex abuse in football. Britain’s largest police force, The Met, along with forces in Cheshire, Northumbria and Hampshire are all looking at claims of abuse.
Meanwhile the national inquiry into child sexual abuse said it was keeping a close eye on developments, while the current England captain Wayne Rooney spoke out to encourage anyone who had been the victim of abuse to come forward so they could be helped to come to terms with what had happened and, hopefully, to bring their abuser to justice.
A number of ex footballers have claimed they were abused. The first was Andy Woodward who said he had been sexually abused by coach Barry Bennell, who has already been jailed three times for child abuse. His brave action opened the floodgates for other players who said they now felt able to speak about what had happened to them decades earlier.
Mr Bailey said: “I think it’s probably a little bit too early to speculate but I suspect that in the next few days and weeks that we will see a significant increase in the numbers that are currently reporting allegations of abuse to us.”