SFA Confirms Review Into Child Sex Abuse

13 December 2016, 17:52

Stewart Regan

The Scottish Football Association (SFA) has announced it is to establish an independent review into allegations of child sex abuse within the sport.

Football has been rocked by claims from former players that they were abused by people in positions of authority.

The SFA said it "has taken initial steps'' towards establishing the scope of the review to see what lessons can be learnt but stressed that Police Scotland remains the main investigatory authority regarding reports of abuse in the sport.

The announcement of the review follows meetings between the SFA, police and representatives from PFA Scotland.

The move follows pressure from various quarters, including Deputy First Minister John Swinney and former justice minister Cathy Jamieson, for Scottish football chiefs to establish an independent inquiry into claims of abuse at Scottish clubs.

Announcing the development, the SFA said it and players' union PFA Scotland are committed to working together to support police in appealing to anyone with information to report child sexual abuse in Scottish football.

It also pledged to ensure "organisational learning and development'' is at the forefront of its responsibilities as the governing body for the national game.

In a statement, it said: "The Scottish FA has taken initial steps towards establishing an appropriate scope and terms of reference for an independent review.

"It is imperative that we take the necessary time and guidance to ensure this review complements the work of Police Scotland and focuses on processes and procedures in place both currently and historically in Scottish football.

"Ultimately, we seek to reassure all those concerned by these allegations that Scottish football is a safe and enjoyable environment for children.''

Police Scotland is currently investigating allegations of historical sexual abuse at football clubs north of the border.

SFA chief executive Stewart Regan said: "Police Scotland has reaffirmed that it is the investigatory authority regarding reports of child sexual abuse in football and it is therefore crucial to draw the distinction between their ongoing investigation and what lessons football can learn from historic allegations.''

On Sunday, Mr Swinney said he would not extend the Scottish Government's historical abuse inquiry - looking into the treatment of children who were in institutional care - to include football.

He urged the SFA to set up an inquiry conducted by an "authoritative, independent, respected figure'' who could consider the issue "without fear or favour''.

Ms Jamieson has warned the Scottish Government should not ''step back'' from holding a general inquiry into historical child abuse in Scotland due to cost, time or difficulty.

Ms Jamieson, a former Labour minister, also called for the SFA to "put their own house in order'' and investigate claims of abuse at Scottish clubs, including whether there was a ''deliberate cover-up'', but said this should not prevent an overarching inquiry by the Scottish Government.

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