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Can we talk about the football sex abuse scandal?

(133 Posts)
DeviTheGaelet Thu 24-Nov-16 19:41:27

Headline news today, NSPCC are setting up a helpline, talk that it was organised and likely to be on the same scale as Saville.

I can't think of another occasion where sex abuse has been reported on so much. I also think sex abuse/grooming was rife in the 80s/90s, I can think of several coaches that have been jailed but not of a story as big as this. Also, other grooming rings e.g. Rotherham haven't resulted in NSPCC helplines I don't think.

Is it that we are becoming more intolerant of sex abuse?
Is it topical because of Saville?
Is it magnified because everything to do with football gets generally over reported anyway?
Is it taken more seriously because primarily boys now men were affected? (I also think gender may have played a part in why "Nick" was taken so seriously in the children's home allegations).
I've posted in feminism because of the gender angle but interested in any thoughts (including being told IABU)

DeviTheGaelet Thu 24-Nov-16 19:43:03

I also think sex abuse/grooming was rife in the 80s/90s, in sports I mean, as well as other organised activities like scouts, need to learn to proofread

EnthusiasmDisturbed Thu 24-Nov-16 20:07:25

Saville case has changed how we deal with sexual abuse

Attitudes will take time to change though I haven't heard any remarks along the lines of why didn't they say something before

And I do believe many people will view this being worse than a man abusing young teenage girls because many see young teenage girls as untrustworthy, temptresses and so on

mudandmayhem01 Thu 24-Nov-16 20:11:33

I think sadly the common factor is the gender of the perpetrators. I think any opportunity for victims to find their voice is important and I hope more men will come forward. I think male victims have an extra problem coming forward about sexual abuse because of homophobia, and if the medium of football encourages people to come forward that has to be a good thing.

RancidOldHag Thu 24-Nov-16 20:16:04

I think that this coming out from the footie community will be a hugely positive thing.

It's wrong. Full stop.

Victims who speak out should be heard. It should be made easy for them to do so.

I don't actually care that much where the initiative comes from (and football clubs are very rich so I damned well hope they're covering the costs).

Anything that says predatory sexual behaviour is wrong is fine with me.

And ask hope heterosexual footballers are paying heed too.

Boogers Thu 24-Nov-16 20:23:01

Pat Nevin put it very well on 5live this morning. It's not just football coaches, it's across the board with people in a position of trust and a position of advantage. It's not just the very brave high profile footballers that have spoken publicly, it's at grass roots level in every sport. Read The Secret Footballer to understand initiation rites and the grunt work apprentice players go through to prove their worth. He's about the same age as Dave White, Andy Woodward, Paul Stewart and Steve Walters. What if instead of being told to clean boots or stand on a chair and sing a song you're told to perform a sex act on your coach in order to get a game? Insert that scenario for any sport and you get why Danny Murphy says he's not surprised it's come to light.

It's not a feminism issue, it's a humanity issue. It's come to the attention of the media because four brave men stood up and said 'this happened to me'. Yes, football does get a high profile, but these men were professional footballers at a high level. In a sport where there are no openly gay footballers at top level, it's a massive taboo.

DeviTheGaelet Thu 24-Nov-16 20:37:20

Totally agree. But I was involved in a sport in the 90s where at least 3 if not 4 of the elite coaches were jailed for abusing girls in the early 2000s and it wasn't reported except in local news. Just wondering what's changed to make it so newsworthy now.

KateInKorea Thu 24-Nov-16 21:04:14

Ireland has at least two swimming coaches jailed. And I see to remember at least one in the U.K. Too in the early nineties.

Horrible for those men, and of course you can't help wonder about poor Gary speed

LastGirlOnTheLeft Thu 24-Nov-16 21:11:47

People are taking this issue much more seriously than if the victims were girls!! The level of support shown to the male victims here is really unprecedented! Girls and women deserve that too!!! With girls and women there is always that underlying message....oh well, shit happens!! With boys it is.....this is evil and unlawful, let's get together to stamp it out!

TheExecutionerMortificado Thu 24-Nov-16 21:16:19


I do think it's changed in the wake of saville, Clifford etc.

And an element of football being the "national game" - I suspect an abuse scandal in table tennis, say, wouldn't have been so reported.

DeviTheGaelet Thu 24-Nov-16 22:15:00

Horrible for those men, and of course you can't help wonder about poor Gary speed

Ugh hadn't even thought that sad

It is awful. Really awful. And I hope that it means people start to question potential motivations for coaches and safeguarding.

I'm very angry about my own experiences as a kid and the reporting has bought that all up, it's frustrating me it hasn't been taken this seriously before

TheExecutionerMortificado Thu 24-Nov-16 22:21:12

flowers Devi

DeviTheGaelet Thu 24-Nov-16 22:37:57

Thanks mortificado (are you the actual mortificado or an imposter btw grin)
I think I shouldn't have started this thread. sad

Kidnapped Thu 24-Nov-16 22:51:16


If you feel that you don't want the thread to continue, then report it and MNHQ will delete it. Or you can hide it and namechange if you like. I'm sorry that this happened to you. It was not your fault.

Like you say, it is at the same time an awful subject but yet very important that the secrecy around it is taken away. I feel very sorry for everyone involved.

PacificDogwod Thu 24-Nov-16 22:56:21

Devi thanks
By all means have the thread taken down if it is too personal for you.

You are asking important questions though.
I think that it is a combination of things: heightened awareness (both by victims and authorities), changes of what is seen as acceptable, yes, I think it is significant that the vast majority of the 'football' victims will have been boys etc.
I hate that the majority of people who volunteer as coaches/Scout leaders or similar activities for kids who have NOT perpetrated any crime will have to prove themselves innocent I suspect going forward. But I don't see any other way to try and safeguards kids.

PoochSmooch Fri 25-Nov-16 06:45:20

Hope you're OK, Devi flowers

DeviTheGaelet Fri 25-Nov-16 07:30:04

Thanks everyone. I guess I just found yesterday very "triggering". My experience of reporting sex abuse by the coach wasn't that everyone said "oh how brave the people reporting are". It was having to sit and listen while people speculated and said things like "everyone knows teenage girls are liars", "he's so nice, he wouldn't do that" and "I have child protection training, I could tell if he was dodgy".
It was a long time ago so I hope things are different now.

pacific I personally wouldn't leave a child alone with a coach and would be very concerned if that was happening. I think most clubs now have those kind of safeguards built in.

StrictlyPan Fri 25-Nov-16 08:03:34

I am a bit surprised it's come out, more nationally, in football rather than my own preferred sport, pro road cycling. The economics, situations and dynamics there would lead to abuse of young sportsmen/women pretty much nailed on, I'd think. Suspect it's only a matter of time.
Am too sorry to know of this Devi - and can obv see why you'd question the gender basis of the high profile reporting.
IF I'm reading it right, I'd agree there is so much more 'shock value' that man abuses boy than man abuses girl. It presents as even more 'unnatural', esp when the man in question is demonstrably hetro to the outside world. And the fact it is the 'national game' projects it even further.

Yes, Gary Speed. Didn't even think of that til now.

PacificDogwod Fri 25-Nov-16 08:04:51

Yes, unfortunately I think you are right, Devi.

More reports this morning sad - this is going to get bigger and bigger.
I have the same feeling as I did when things emerged about Saville not that long after he had that huge funeral and his life had been celebrated so hugely hmm

SoFeckingCross Fri 25-Nov-16 11:37:34

flowers Devi

Sadly I did wonder the same things, is this been taken so seriously because of the sex of the reporters and the involvement of football.

Or hopefully is it a sign that historical child sex abuse is finally being seriously.

Though as someone pointed out (on the sadly side) a male footballer opens up about abuse instantly taken seriously (as it should be) however when a current footballer is revealed to have groomed and assaulted a 14 year old people were lining up to defend him and revile her, and his club knew and helped cover up...............

Boogers Fri 25-Nov-16 11:56:31

In the UK we have a law whereby victims of sex assaults, male or female, are entitled to anonymity for life.

The people who have come out in recent days to say that they were abused by their coaches is the tip of the iceberg. Coaches are in a position of advantage and manipulation and coercion, nurturing God-given talent and ambition from puberty. Four men who were top level professional footballers have spoken out to say they were abused, and it comes down to a hysteria that "THEY'RE MEN, THIS WOULDN'T HAVE HAPPENED IF IT WERE WOMEN INVOLVED!!!!!!".

Actually, yes it would. If Rebecca Adlington or Ellie Simmonds or Beth Tweddle or Jess Ennis said that this had happened to them it would be big news. That four brave men have come to the media and said that they were abused by people who were in a position of trust, to me, speaks volumes.

It has already been proven that these men speaking out has led to calls to the NSPCC line, and that line is available for men and women, boys and girls, young and old.

Boogers Fri 25-Nov-16 11:57:52

Oh, and by the way, I am a survivor of sexual abuse. Repeatedly raped by my cousin and his friend, I'm still here, living, surviving.

Boogers Fri 25-Nov-16 12:20:09

And in raising this issue within sporting circles it might encourage people who have been, or who are being, abused to realise that this is not normal, this is not good, and that the people who are doing this are not acting within your best interests. If it takes one male retired footballer to go public and say 'this happened to me' for the avalanche of sexual abuse to fall, then so be it.

I personally think the four men who have come forward to talk in the press about their abuse are incredibly brave.

SoFeckingCross Fri 25-Nov-16 12:28:51

Boogers no-one is denying that the first 4 men have been incredibly brave.

But questioning if this is been taken so seriously is not hysteria, as I said it's a hope that finally child sex abuse is been taken seriously, but through experience wondering if this is actually the case.

Boogers Fri 25-Nov-16 12:42:40

SoFeckingCross what makes a scandal a scandal? What makes an outrage an outrage?

I actually agree with the implication of your post that the status of the people that have come forward has an impact on the way the media has picked up on it, and to a degree I agree. If Steph Houghton had said her coach did this to her I'm not sure it would have received the same media attention, and I'm very uncomfortable with that.

The people putting forward their story to the worldwide media takes a tremendous amount of courage. I reiterate, the NSPCC is open to men, women, boys and girls.

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