UK

More than 1,700 calls to football abuse helpline

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More than 1,700 calls have now been made to a hotline set up in the wake of claims of sexual abuse in football, the NSPCC has said.

The line, supported by the FA, was set up after ex-Crewe Alexandra player Andy Woodward revealed he had been a victim of sexual abuse as a young footballer.

The NSPCC said 75% of the calls that resulted in a referral to police or other agencies came from abuse victims.

Police have so far identified 83 potential suspects.

In the last three weeks, more than 20 former footballers - including ex-youth players, trainees and professionals - have come forward with allegations of historical abuse in football.

Within two hours of the hotline opening on 23 November, it received 50 calls, and in the first week 860 calls were made.

Not all calls result in referrals, but the NSPCC said 94% of the referrals made by helpline staff have been to police.

More than 20 UK police forces have confirmed they are investigating claims of historical child abuse in football.

The Football Association has announced an internal review.

On Tuesday, the Metropolitan Police said it was investigating people linked to 30 football clubs in London, four of which are in the Premier League.

Last week police chiefs said 98 clubs involved in the investigation.

The National Police Chiefs' Council said 98% of the identified victims were male and that investigations span all tiers of football.

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said it was encouraging that people were coming forward.

He said: "It's clear that for far too long, hundreds of people who suffered abuse as youngsters in the game have not been able to speak up, but it is encouraging that so many are finally finding their voice in a climate today where they know they will be listened to and supported."

The charity said the number of calls to the helpline does not reflect the number of people or victims, as multiple calls can come from one individual.

  • The NSPCC's football abuse helpline can be contacted 24 hours a day on 0800 023 2642.

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