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Abuse claims ‘in all tiers of football’

There are now 83 potential suspects and 98 clubs involved in the inquiry into child abuse in football, police chiefs have said.

The investigations span all tiers of football, “from premier clubs through to amateur”, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said.

Police forces across the country are continuing to receive calls, it added.

Of the identified victims, 98% were male, and the age at the time of abuse was between seven and 20, police said.

A total of 639 referrals had been received from the helpline set up by the children’s charity the NSPCC, and directly from police forces.

The information is being passed to Operation Hydrant – which oversees the investigation of allegations of “non-recent” child sex abuse within institutions – which collates it and shares it across forces.

The NPCC’s lead for child protection said the allegations were “being swiftly acted upon” by police.

Although 98 football clubs had been “referenced”, not all were necessarily under investigation, the police said.

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And it said the number of victims, previously reported to be 350, continued to apply until all the referrals had been analysed and processed.

‘No complacency’

Meanwhile, Premier League boss Richard Scudamore has written to the parents of more than 3,000 players in the league’s youth system to reassure them their children are being protected.

In the letter, which was sent on Wednesday to the parents of children aged eight to 18, Mr Scudamore said the league had been “very concerned” by the allegations of historical sexual abuse at professional football clubs.

“The victims and survivors have been extremely brave to come forward and have our sympathy and support,” he wrote.

“Given the volume of media coverage these disturbing stories understandably continue to generate, it is important that you… are made aware of the current standards and provisions in place to keep your children safe.”

Mr Scudamore went on to outline the Premier League’s various safeguarding measures.

He added: “There is no complacency – the Premier League’s own safeguarding team and independent monitors visit each club regularly throughout every season to assess the quality of their work and guide them on any developments that could be made.”

Three weeks ago, ex-Crewe defender Andy Woodward waived his right to anonymity to say he had been a victim of sexual abuse as a young footballer.

Since then, more than 20 former footballers – including ex-youth players, trainees and professionals – have come forward with allegations of historical abuse in football.

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Governing body the Football Association has announced an internal review.

Children’s charity the NSPCC said the “shocking” numbers had revealed the “deeply disturbing extent of abuse” in football.

It said its football hotline, launched with the support of the FA, had seen a “staggering surge” in calls in its first week.



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