Maybe at last the media is waking up to the notion of child abuse in football



By Tony Attwood

When you think about it, it is utterly outrageous that the national media utterly refuses to take up the story of possible child abuse in football.  (The background, if you are not familiar with it, is told in detail here).

Here we have a situation in which an aggrieved parent has single-handedly been taking on a Championship side with accusations that his son was not given the proper medical care he deserved and could reasonably expect, when he was a youth player.

The story has been turning up of late on Linked In, and getting a lot of interest, but despite endless appeals from the parent, neither the club, nor the Football Association, nor the Football League will investigate the case.

Of course, I must make it clear that I have no evidence in this matter either way – I know what is being alleged by the aggrieved parent (now a pensioner), but have no indication of what the club, or the FA or the League feel about the matter.

And that is because no one will reply to the parent!   Seemingly he writes letters and emails, makes phone calls, and contacts the media. but absolutely no one in authority will even have the courtesy to explain to him why they will not take action, and no one in the media will take on a football league club.

In fact, I understand that the parent has been told by each of the authorities noted above that it is not for them to deal with.

Now all this is undoubtedly very shocking for the parent and the young lad whose career was seemingly damaged very seriously by (according to the parent) his being being played when he was injured and should have been receiving proper treatment.

That is a major issue, and one that should be investigated.  But my central concern here is not the original incident, of which of course I have no independent knowledge.

It is that when a parent has a concern about the behaviour of a League club in relation to a child, there seems to be no one to whom this can be reported.  And this in a society in which there has previously been a series of massive scandals relating to child sex abuse cases involving football clubs.

Thus it seems that professional football is still turning its back on the whole issue of child abuse in football clubs and pretending it never happened.   And because it “never happened” they are now, each and every one of them saying “Nothing to do with us.”

My point is not that the child clearly was injured by being played when he should have been rested.  As I say I haven’t seen any evidence.  My concern is that after all we have been through in terms of child sex scandals in football when there is a problem, no one wants to know.

Worse, as I have reported before, when it comes to looking at the evidence of the child’s medical records, the parent is being told by the club concerned, “the records are missing”.    And worse again, neither the Football League nor the Football Association find themselves willing or able to pick up on this.  I would have expected a major punishment for the club – but no, nothing.

Yes maybe the club in question has an appalling filing system and can’t find past medical records (which as I understand it they are duty bound to keep) but to be able to get out of any enquiry into how they treated a child in the past through the simple excuse that “the medical records are missing” shows there is no system for protecting children.

In short, children are as open to abuse now, as they were before the first enquiries into child sex abuse in football clubs began. 

And this despite the fact that back in 2018, there were over 350 alleged victims of child abuse whose cases were being investigated.

By the end of 2021, 16 men had been charged with historical sexual abuse offences, 15 of whom were tried. Fourteen were convicted; and all except three were jailed.   One got a probation order, one was found not guilty and one died before his trial started.   According to Wikipedia  “civil actions for damages were also instigated against clubs including Celtic, Crewe Alexandra, Manchester City and Newcastle United.”

Now I am not saying that a young player not receiving proper medical treatment in response to an injury, and then being unable to take any action because his medical records are lost, is equivalent to the child sex abuse cases.

But I am saying that clearly, the situation of children being trained by clubs has not changed – despite the horrors reported in the child sex abuse cases.   How can it be that a club, when accused of not looking after a child properly, can simply give a metaphorical shrug of the shoulders and say “we can’t find the medical records?”

That is the sort of approach that allowed the sexual predators to flourish in football for so many years.  And it is still there – still deeply rooted within the system, with the Football League and Football Association seemingly unable or unwilling to do anything, and the media unwilling to cover the case.

There is however one light at the end of the tunnel.  I am told today, following the coverage on Linked In one newspaper has been in touch with the father of the boy involved in this awful scandal.  Maybe at last that story is going to emerge as it should, and the authorities that have refused to act, and the media that has refused to cover the story, will be properly put to shame once and for all.

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