Friday 25 November 2016

We Would Support Sex Abuse Victims Says Greg Clarke

Greg Clarke insists the Football Association will do all it can to support the alleged victims of sexual abuse at clubs. The FA chairman met with Andy Woodward at Wembley on Thursday after the former defender broke his silence on the abuse he suffered at the hands of youth coach Barry Bennell while at Crewe Alexandra between the ages of 11 and 15.

Ex-Crewe midfielder Steve Walters and former Manchester City forward David White have since also claimed to have been abused by Bennell, while former England international Paul Stewart has described the abuse he suffered from an unnamed youth coach as a child over a four-year period. Bennell, who reportedly also had an association with Manchester City, was jailed for nine years in 1998 after pleading guilty to sexual offences.

Clarke has written to 30,000 football clubs raising their awareness and insisted the FA will do their utmost to support any criminal investigation. He said “I think the important thing is to make sure at the moment that people are safe and crimes are being investigated, we will take any action necessary to support the evidence that we get. I found it very emotional (speaking to Andy). I found it very upsetting to see a human being having gone through what he has gone through.  He shared it with me and I told him that we had two fundamental objectives, one, to make sure that all the victims felt safe to report these terrible crimes against them, and secondly, to make sure none of this was going on anymore. We'll be working very closely, keeping him informed. I found him a very open, honestly and honourable gentleman, who shared a lot of pain and a lot of that soaked in. I don't believe so. I think these victims have reported what happened to them. It came to our immediate attention, we are working on it and we've started the helpline.  I personally went to the meeting today to talk to Andy about his experiences, to learn personally what he went through and the lessons learnt.  We've got 8,500 people out there safeguarding officers in the community. I wrote to 30,000 clubs today, raising their awareness, whether it's supporting the police in their investigation. These are heinous crimes and they need to be investigated by the police and they will have our support.”

Former Crewe manager Dario Gradi released a statement on Thursday insisting he was unaware of the alleged sexual abuse that occurred at the club and expressed his sympathy to the victims of Bennell.  Manchester City also released a statement and confirmed they were conducting an internal investigation. 

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