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England football abuse scandal widens

Press Association logoPress Association 25/11/2016

Former England midfielder Paul Stewart believes "hundreds" of former players may have been subjected to sexual abuse when children, as more victims came forward on Friday.

Former Tottenham and Liverpool striker Stewart told the BBC he was abused on a daily basis by a youth team coach, from the age of 11.

Stewart said the scale of the scandal could rival that of Jimmy Savile, who was accused of hundreds of cases of abuse after his death.

"My hope would be that it's not as many (Savile) but I think it's hundreds", he told the BBC.

Former Crewe forward Andy Woodward lifted the lid on the scandal last week when he revealed he had been sexually abused by Barry Bennell, a convicted paedophile who worked as a coach at the club.

The National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) set up a hotline this week for footballers who may have been abused.

They reported 50 calls on the first day while The Guardian said on Friday a former Newcastle player had also come forward to report abuse.

Paul Stewart has said he was abused as a child by a football coach. Eleven people have come forward to police in the wake of revelations about sexual abuse in football. © Press Association Paul Stewart has said he was abused as a child by a football coach. Eleven people have come forward to police in the wake of revelations about sexual abuse in football. Two more ex-footballers, Chris Unsworth and Jason Dunford, came forward on Friday to tell their stories of abuse when children in the sport.

Former Manchester City youth team player Dunford alleged a paedophile ring was running in professional football and that it was covered up as part of a conspiracy.

"I believe there was a conspiracy and paedophile ring," Dunford told the BBC.

Dunford said he had been staying at a Butlins holiday camp after winning a football competition when Bennell attempted to touch him in bed.

"There were people at those clubs who had a duty to look after boys coming through their system."

Unsworth was another former Crewe youth team player to come forward with allegations against Bennell and claimed the club turned a blind eye to what was happening.

"It could have been prevented," he told the programme.

"Everything we have been through has been brushed under the carpet and that is why we are here today."

Crewe refused to comment on the latest allegations, referring to the response given by club officials on Thursday.

"There is no press conference or any comment other than the statements made by club chairman John Bowler and Dario Gradi," said a statement.

Dunford and Unsworth appeared on the programme alongside Woodward and Steve Walters, all of whom waived their right to anonymity.

Walters, who still holds the record as Crewe's youngest first-team player, felt the system had failed youngsters and while improvements had been made in recent years he called for a complete overhaul after recent allegations.

"My parents put their trust into a football club and surely they should have vetted and made sure the person looking after us was a 'normal' person," Walters said.

"All the organisations who are supposed to be responsible for football and looking after children have a duty to protect us.

"The whole of football needs ripping apart, this can never ever happen to any young footballer again."

A tearful Woodward, who was first to go public with his story, admitted he had been taken aback by the support he had received.

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