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Police investigating sex abuse in soccer

AAP logoAAP 25/11/2016

Four police forces are now investigating allegations of historical child sex abuse in soccer in the United Kingdom.

The national inquiry into child sexual abuse said it was "watching events closely" and opened the door to examining allegations in the growing scandal as England captain Wayne Rooney urged anyone who may have been assaulted to seek help. He tweeted that "my colleagues have been very brave".

A string of former footballers have come forward since Andy Woodward became the first to speak out last week about abuse he suffered at the hands of convicted child abuser Barry Bennell, a former Crewe Alexandra coach.

The Metropolitan Police, Britain's biggest force, said it "has received information relating to non-recent sexual abuse in football clubs in London".

Scotland Yard did not name any of the clubs involved.

Hampshire Police said its detectives are investigating non-recent child abuse "within the football community".

Cheshire Police said it had received ''a growing number of disclosures'' and that allegations have been "made against more than one individual".

Northumbria Police said it was investigating an allegation by an unnamed former Newcastle United player that he was abused in the club's youth system.

The Guardian newspaper said an unnamed former Newcastle United player had contacted police to make allegations against George Ormond, a coach in the North East who was jailed for six years in 2002 for carrying out numerous assaults across a 24-year period.

Newcastle United FC said they would co-operate with authorities "if or when the club receives further information".

Some of the claims have come from the NSPCC which this week set up a dedicated hotline - on 0800 023 2642 - for football-related cases.

The Premier League said it is "very concerned" by allegations and offered its sympathy and support to those who have come forward."

Adding to the concerns about the depth and scale of the scandal are reports in the Daily Telegraph that leading football clubs made secret payments to buy the silence of young players sexually abused by coaches.

The paper states that, according to an unnamed source, a number of clubs, including at least one Premier League team, had paid compensation to footballers but only after victims had signed confidentiality agreements so strict that along with their families and lawyers they are banned from saying publicly if the cases even existed.

Former Manchester City youth team player Jason Dunford claimed the scandal is bigger than the one involving former broadcaster Jimmy Savile.

Mr Dunford, who said he had been staying at a Butlins holiday camp after winning a football competition when he alleges Bennell attempted to touch him in bed, told the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme: "I believe there was a conspiracy and paedophile ring.

"I think Savile looks like a choirboy compared to this fella.

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

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