You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

FA chief meets with alleged abuse victims

AAP logoAAP 22/12/2016

Football Association chairman Greg Clarke has met alleged victims of abuse as the governing body attempts to deal with the problems of the past and ensure the safety of today's young players.

The FA has said that Clarke, who spoke to Andy Woodward last month, held face-to-face talks with fellow ex-footballers Ian Ackley, Derek Bell, Paul Stewart and David White this week amidst an independent review in to the scandal which has emerged in recent weeks.

Clarke told the FA's official website: "I was humbled to hear their stories and their thoughts and views on safeguarding children in football, both past and present.

"We will continue to listen to victims and survivors throughout this process and look forward to maintaining this constructive dialogue."

Clarke's comments came after the FA Board was told at its meeting on Thursday that 99 per cent of its grassroots affiliated youth clubs, encompassing 62,238 teams, have renewed their safeguarding commitment to ensure the game is played in "a safe and fun environment".

Those clubs who have not completed the required paperwork ahead of the deadline have been temporarily suspended from all forms of football, including training, with the County FAs now working with them to resolve any issues, which in some cases could be administrative rather than a failure to comply with safeguarding standards.

In addition, the Premier League has contacted all its clubs to ensure they are aware of the avenues open to them if they have concerns, and written to the parents of the clubs' academy players to highlight to provisions currently in place.

The English Football League too has been in touch with its 72 clubs, all of whom have renewed their commitment to the welfare of their young players.

Clarke said: "The current response by English football at all levels has been commendable. However, the challenge now is to reach out to those clubs that still need our assistance so that our safeguarding standards remain robust."

The FA announced it had launched an independent review led by Clive Sheldon QC in response to press reports, sparked by Woodward's allegations of abuse, of non-recent child sexual abuse in football on December 6.

According to the information gathered by Operation Hydrant - the UK-wide police investigation into non-recent child sexual abuse - 148 clubs are now involved, with 155 potential suspects and 429 victims, aged between four and 20.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon