Friday, 16 February 2018

Paedophiles in football

Deborah Davies's programme "Wall of Silence", slotted into Channel 4's schedule at short notice last night after Barry Bennell's conviction, should have been watched closely by all those concerned with the development of young footballers. Now working for al-Jazeera, Deborah Davies was following up her revelations for Channel 4 twenty years earlier following Bennell's first conviction in the USA. The depressing message from yesterday was that nothing had changed, in spite of the warnings. The only silence that had been broken was that of the victims, who in middle age finally felt able to come out to their families and to the public. The Football Association, though it has now started its own inquiry, has not answered questions about its lack of action over twenty years. Admittedly, it set up a child protection strategy in the noughties on which high hopes were pinned, but, as Deborah Davies revealed, it failed because of lack of cooperation from the clubs* and, after secretary Adam Crozier moved on, starvation of funds. The conclusion I draw is that Bennell was far from unique and that the FA and most football clubs did not want to admit that paedophilia was rife in the game. I should be glad to be disabused, but I fear that there will be more revelations about other perpetrators.

* I believe Charlton Athletic to be an exception, but unfortunately cannot find a reference on the Web.

No comments: