Following the disclosure by more than 20 football players that they were sexually abused, the FA has announced an internal review. At the same time, Crewe Alexandra has said it will launch an independent review.
Thus far, Leeds United, Stoke, Manchester City, Newcastle and Blackpool are all clubs which have been linked to the disclosure of abuse, in addition to Crewe Alexandra. Multiple police forces are investigating.
Commentators have described these disclosures as the tip of the iceberg and compared them to the disclosures which followed the initial revelations about Jimmy Savile. Calls have been made for a wide-ranging inquiry. Were it not facing challenges of its own then the IICSA would seem the obvious organisation to lead such a wide-ranging inquiry but that is probably unrealistic for it at the current time and importantly it needs not to be rushed in to another investigation without proper remit and focus. However, having multiple reviews, investigations and inquiries is not in anyone’s interest, least of all those abused nor those seeking to learn from what has happened so as to ensure best practice is in place now.
In due course those abused may seek redress. In undertaking reviews, regard should also be had to how and when support and redress, in whatever form appropriate, can be provided without undue complication and delay. Lessons should be learned from the Savile disclosures and the criticism of the IICSA so that football stands as a beacon of good practice which other organisations with less financial acumen can follow and learn from.
Written by Paula Jefferson, partner