- The biggest scandal to hit the English game is ongoing, and no one will speak
- The biggest scandal in football: who is checking on how clubs behave? Part two.
Two simple factors emerge: Championship clubs are in deep financial trouble, and there is no organisation that is acting as an untainted police force.
The lure of football is enduring, but so is English football’s financial chaos. In such a situation it is impossible to imagine that anyone is looking after the best interests of young players. This effectively means that the young players who are overtrained, whose bodies are pushed beyond the limit and who eventually are injured for life, are just abandoned. Because the league clubs, the Football Association, and the media are all entangled together. The government don’t intervene in football because it is an absolute no-go area for government interference. And there is no one else left.
Maybe if all the clubs that take on hopeful players were making significant profits, and maybe if there was an effective overarching body looking after the well-being of young players the inappropriate over training would cease. But it doesn’t. No one beyond the top Premier League clubs is spending extra money on proper training protocols when it is possible to attempt to fast track youngsters and save cash by using unsuitable training methods. And no one will investigate any wrongs.
And if you are a parent trying to gain compensation for your child’s injuries caused by bad training methods in a club, no one will talk to you, because each club knows that the other clubs are staying silent, and so is the media.
Yet, your youngster has been seduced by the promise of professional football but is now injured, quite possibly permanently injured, and you want compensation. Who would you go to?
The club of course will deny responsibility. Other clubs won’t help because they know they could have done much the same thing.
But can’t the League help? Probably not because the league is controlled by the clubs that are behaving like this. What of the FA? They will just tell you the leagues look after their own affairs – that’s not their job. Besides they are busy getting ready to go to Qatar, and engage with a not that highly respectable and moral regime there.
The local media … surely they will take up a local story? Well, probably not because they are dependent on the goodwill of the club so that they can run daily stories, report matches, get players and management for interviews. They really don’t want to go head-on in a fight with the local club.
Your local MP? Well, maybe, except he or she is not really wanting to be seen hassling the local club who could quickly make a lot of noise about how the MP is causing them difficulties – and that’s a good way to lose the next election or be de-selected by your party.
And so it goes on. The problem here is that football is a closed community – everyone knows everyone, and they all know what each is doing.
Which was the problem that arose with the abuse of children by sexual predators and is now the problem with the possible abuse of children and young adults by clubs who show no regard for safety in their training systems.
Any investigation will be run by those who are either directly involved or who have a reputation to protect. No one will speak out. No one will act. Not those at the top in the League, nor those on the ground floor in the clubs.
“What happens in football stays in football,” was a phrase that was used in the child abuse scandals and it is being used again now in the training injury scandals.
No one wants to take up the case. Not the responsible club, not the local media, not mass media, not the MP, not the local councillors, not the League, not the FA no one.
So this is the point. In football there is no wholly independent body that can investigate potential wrong doing, apart of course from Revenue and Customs, and they are just interested in the money.
From what I have discovered, I’ve no doubt that children and teenagers are being harmed mentally and physically in clubs. But no one will investigate, and no one will act, and above all no one will upset the apple cart. Exactly as in the football sex scandal.
And yet once again there is reason to suggest there is serious abuse of young people going on. Not sexual abuse, not mental abuse (although those may still be there) but the deliberate taking of shortcuts in training which risk the youngster’s long-time physical wellbeing.
Evidence is being gathered, but this is all taking quite a time – and until we find some insiders willing to testify it is hard going. But we’re not letting this one go.
But above all, we do need a wholly independent body overseeing football and ready to go where none of the vested interests will venture. And that, despite all the horrific reports of abuse in the past, we still do not have.
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