Allegations of historic child sexual abuse have become football's biggest talking point in recent months, but the issue of institutional exploitation in the sport is not a problem of the past. There is evidence to suggest that young people could still be vulnerable to predatory paedophiles targeting youth set ups.
It is clear that football has failed in its responsibility to prevent endemic and institutional abuse. A disclosure by the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) at the end of 2016 revealed that 155 potential suspects have been identified in connection with allegations of historic sexual abuse in the sport, with 148 football clubs impacted. The indicative number of victims stood at 429 when this report was published, with the age range for potential victims at the time of the abuse spanning four to 20 years of age.
A slew of allegations have emerged since former Crewe Alexandria player Andrew Woodward waived his right to anonymity for an interview with The Guardian in November 2016. These claims of child sexual exploitation are certainly not restricted to an era where predatory paedophiles were free to carry out their abuses in plain sight. In fact, some of the referrals reported by helplines and law firms are far more recent, sparking further concerns that children playing in youth teams in 2017 could still be at risk.
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