FA hunts out the soccer sex abusers

POLICE WILL screen all football coaches and staff working with young players to drive paedophiles from professionalclubs.

The Government is backing the plan, which will help to identify young players and fans who have been sexually abused. There have been fears that some coaches working with juniors have exploited their positions of trust to prey on them.

The screening programme will include every club in the country. Even famous names such as Liam Brady and Steve Heighway, the heads of the football academies at Arsenal and Liverpool, will have to be checked.

As part of a new Child Safe programme, which is launched nationally in Bristol tomorrow, professional footballers are also to be given training in identifying abused young fans who may come to them or write to them for help.

The programme has been developed by Bristol Rovers Football Club and has the support of Tony Banks, the Sports minister, and the Football Association, which hopes it will be adopted by all clubs.

Peter Cates, the FA Premier League's education officer, said: "Football certainly is not complacent about this and is more than aware that any job working with children offers opportunities to people whose motives might not be 100 per cent [honourable]."

The football establishment has been concerned by a series of cases involving the abuse of young players by professional coaches. Last November, Jim Torbett, the founder of Celtic Boys Club, which supplied young players to the famous Glasgow club, was jailed for two years for abusing three teenagers, including Alan Brazil, who later became a Scottish international.

Sheriff Margaret Gimblett told Torbett, a 51-year-old millionaire businessman: "These children were football-mad with stars in their eyes, and perhaps hoping to kick their way to the stars. You knew that, and you betrayed that trust."

Last June, Barry Bennell, 44, who was once employed by Crewe Alexandra and who had a close association with Stoke City and Manchester City in the 1980s, was jailed for nine years for preying on young players.

Chester Crown Court was told that from 1978 to 1992, Bennell talent- spotted boys aged 9 to 14 around the North-west and Midlands before selecting them for junior football teams.

He would invite them to stay with him at his home or take them on tours to various places, including North Wales and Spain, where he sexually abused them.

The FA's response to the problem was developed by the caretaker England coach Howard Wilkinson, who was asked by football bosses to draw up a Charter for Quality, to help clubs to develop their young footballing talent.

The charter, published last April, included a commitment to child protection. Next month, the FA will put this into practice by starting a training programme for all coaches working with young players at the Centres of Excellence and Football Academies that are now attached to professional clubs.

The scheme is principally aimed at helping coaches to identify abused youngsters and put them in contact with specialists from social services and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. But coaches will also be asked to declare criminal convictions on self-certification forms, which will be subject to screening by police.

The FA hopes clubs will go even further and follow Bristol Rovers in adopting a Child Safe scheme, which has been drawn up on police advice. Bristol Rovers has appointed a child protection officer, former teacher Rod Wesson, to oversee the strategy.

Mr Wesson said: "We want to reassure parents who allow their kids to come to us that we have done everything we can to provide them with a safe environment."

The scheme is jointly run with Avon and Somerset Police and has also been adopted by Bath Rugby Football Club and Gloucestershire County Cricket Club.

David Niven, director of the charity Action on Child Exploitation, said: "We hope the big clubs will help this message to cascade down throughout the sports. Abuse can occur at all levels, from kick-abouts in the park to Premier League clubs."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?