Football sex abuse: NSPCC receives more than 50 calls after launching victims' hotline

FA and children's charities urge players to come forward after four ex-professionals claim they were assaulted by former coach

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The Independent Online

The NSPCC has launched a new hotline for sexual abuse victims in football that has received more than 50 calls in the first two hours, after four ex-footballers claimed they were allegedly assaulted by a former coach. 

David White, Andy Woodward, Steve Walters and Paul Stewart all spoke out over the past week about the abuse they suffered as young footballers. 

The Professional Footballers Association confirmed it expected “many more” victims to come forward. 

“We’re working with the Football Association to make sure anyone affected by this can come forward,” an NSPCC spokesperson told The Independent

“We’re not going to be giving a running update on the figures but I can confirm that last reported figure of 50 has gone up.”

An outpouring of public support followed the footballers' announcements, for which they waived their anonymity, and many have praised them for their bravery in speaking out. 

"The courage and dignity being shown by Andy Woodward, Steve Walters and Paul Stewart is immense. We join Andy, the police and others in the continued efforts to encourage more victims and survivors to come forward,” said Sue Ravenlaw, head of equality and safeguarding at the FA

“We urge people to utilise this specific NSPCC helpline to gain support and advice.”

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said the charity welcome the FA’s commitment to tackle any “hiding place for sexual abuse in our national game”. 

"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,” he said. 

"As this week's revelations have laid bare, people must be able to speak out and get the help they need, and we know that can often be more difficult for men and boys.

"We welcome the FA's commitment to helping those in the game get the help and support they need."

The hotline, which is supported by the FA, will be available 24 hours a day on 0800 023 2642.