Law firm instructed to look at football abuse

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SOLICITORS have been instructed to represent alleged victims of historic child sexual abuse at Southampton FC as part of the investigation into several major British football clubs.

Solicitor Malcolm Johnson, senior associate at BL Claims, which has an office in Portsmouth, and a specialist in child abuse cases, is working on behalf of clients who were youngsters involved in the club’s youth system in the mid-1980s.

Among them is a man who alleges he was abused when he was a teenager training with the club. The man, who remained with the club for two years after signing a youth team training contract, now suffers from severe mental health problems.

Mr Johnson said victims of sexual abuse in football often found it difficult to speak out – but they must do so in order to access the support they need.

He said: ‘We understand how difficult it is for those who have suffered abuse to speak out. The problem in the sports world is that child abusers thrive in an environment where children are scared to speak up for fear that they will lose their place in a team.

‘At the time when these incidents are alleged to have occurred, child safeguarding regulations were also less stringent than they are today, making it easier for abuse to go undetected.

‘Any perpetrators who are found guilty of abuse will have not only groomed and abused their victims in the most catastrophic way but also abused the trust of their families and the rest of the football community.

‘We support the FA’s decision to implement an immediate enquiry.’