Abuse expert says claims could come from other sports

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AN EXPERT in child abuse law has said he believes the scandal engulfing football will spread to other sports.

Detectives in Hampshire are investigating historic child abuse claims after several ex-players came forward.

Charles Derham, head of the abuse team at Verisona Law, based at North Harbour, said perpetrators have taken advantage of their position.

He said: ‘It’s certainly not uncommon for situations like this to arise. It often takes the one individual come forward to draw everybody else out.

‘They see the reaction as opposed to fearing what the reaction could if they’re the first to come forward.’

On Friday it was revealed Hampshire is one of five forces probing allegations of historic abuse in football.

‘It’s probably not going to be restricted to individuals playing football,’ he added.

‘I think it will see others come forward.’

Mr Derham said perpetrators may lead victims to think they should not speak out as they are offering them opportunities within the sport.

‘They feel they owe that person and ultimately they don’t owe them anything,’ he said.

‘They were children there to be looked after, not there for individuals to prey upon.’

Former players started to waive their anonymity 13 days ago after ex-player Andy Woodward spoke out about the abuse he claims he suffered at the hands of convicted paedophile Barry Bennell.

Yesterday it emerged that Bennell, a former Crewe Alexandra coach, was treated by paramedics and taken to hospital on Friday night after being found unconscious, in what police called a ‘fear for welfare’ incident.

More than 20 former players have come forward with allegations of historical child abuse, prompting the Football Association to step up its review.

It will be led by a barrister and will look into ‘what information the FA was aware of at the relevant times, what clubs were aware of, and what action was or should have been taken’.

Uefa has given its support to the FA.

‘Uefa is aware of the allegations of sexual abuse made by several footballers in the English media,’ communications Pedro Pinto chief said.

‘We are very concerned by these disturbing revelations and would like to state categorically that any kind of abusive behaviour in the game is completely unacceptable.’

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