350 potential victims have reported claims of child sexual abuse within British football, according to the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC).
The news comes after Gareth Southgate, the new England manager, revealed he was a teammate of one of the footballers who has come forward in recent weeks.
Speaking at his unveiling as the national team’s new head coach on Thursday, Southgate said: “I played with one of the players who has recently come forward.
“The reality of that, as they have said, is that they haven't felt able to speak about that until this moment, and that's completely understandable.
Southgate did not reveal the identity of his former teammate though, of the players to have waived their anonymity so far, Paul Stewart is the only one to have been a team-mate of Southgate.
The pair were briefly at Crystal Palace together during the 1993/94 season, during Stewart’s spell on loan at the club from Liverpool.
The NPCC’s figure of 350 victims is collated from information supplied to Operation Hydrant, the national investigation into allegations of “non-recent” child sexual abuse, and referrals from an NSPCC helpline.
Chief Constable Simon Bailey, the NPCC’s lead for child protection, claimed that the number of potential victims as “significant and growing” and encouraged more people to come forward.
“It is important to note that this is an indicative figure only, and that information is still being collated, numbers will, therefore, continue to change,” he said.
“We continue to encourage those who have been the victim of child sexual abuse to report it, regardless of how long ago the abuse may have taken place.
We’ve committed to a full review, shining the light on what happened in the past in football
“We will listen and treat all reports sensitively and seriously. Anyone with any information regarding child sexual abuse is also urged to come forward.”
Earlier on Thursday, Martin Glenn, the Football Association’s chief executive, had promised to punish any club found guilty of “hushing up” sexual abuse.
“We’ve committed to a full review, shining the light on what happened in the past in football,” he said during Southgate’s unveiling.
“We have clear rules in the game and if there’s any evidence of a breach of those – and hushing up would be one – subject to due process, the police need to be at the right place in this, when it’s our turn to apply the rules we absolutely will, regardless of size of club.”
Glenn, however, cast doubt on suggestions that there had been any organised attempt at a “cover-up” within the game.Reuse content