NSPCC launches football hotline for sexual abuse victims

Last updated: 01 Dec 2016 Topics: Safeguarding children Type: News article
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Dedicated helpline launched with support of the FA as more footballers speak up about sexual abuse in the game.

Following revelations by Andy Woodward, Steve Walters and Paul Stewart about the abuse they suffered as young footballers, the NSPCC launched a dedicated football hotline for victims of abuse on 23 November, supported by the FA.

The free helpline is available 24 hours a day on 0800 023 2642.

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said:

“There must be no hiding place for sexual abuse in our national game and there may be many others who suffered through such horrors as young players but have never come forward.”

A chance to be heard

The NSPCC and FA are urging players and others involved in football from grassroots to Premier League to speak up using the NSPCC football hotline. This is especially important as Childline figures show that boys are five times less likely to speak up about sexual abuse than girls are.

Sue Ravenlaw, head of equality and safeguarding at the FA, said:

“We join Andy, the police and others in the continued efforts to encourage more victims and survivors to come forward. We urge people to utilise this specific NSPCC helpline to gain support and advice.”

NSPCC ambassador Wayne Rooney said:

“It’s awful that some of my colleagues have suffered this way whilst playing the sport that I and they love. Andy has been really brave to come forward and I would encourage anyone who has or is suffering from abuse to call the NSPCC’s new football helpline.

“It’s important that people know that it’s ok to speak out, there is help available and that they don’t need to suffer in silence”

Staffed by independent, experienced NSPCC professionals, the helpline will offer support and guidance for victims of childhood sexual abuse within the game.

Update – Football helpline receives 860 calls in first week

Within 2 hours of the helpline opening on 23 November, it received 50 contacts from members of the public. By the end of the first week, 860 calls were made.

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said:

“The number of high-profile footballers bravely speaking out about their ordeal has rightly caught the attention of the entire country.

“We have had a staggering surge in calls to our football hotline, which reveals the worrying extent of abuse that had been going on within the sport.

“Anyone who wants to contact us can do so in confidence, with the knowledge they will be listened to and supported. In future, footballers – both young players and former athletes – must have the confidence to open up about sexual abuse and feel able to come forward.”

Further information

If you're worried about possible abuse of a child or young person within sport, find out how you can deal with a concern

Children can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or online at childline.org.uk.

Related resources

Media enquiries

Journalists can contact the NSPCC press office for information about the work we do and to request interviews with our spokespeople.