London (AFP) – A telephone hotline dedicated to helping those affected by historic sexual abuse in football has received more than 1,700 calls in three weeks, it was revealed on Thursday.
The confidential number was set up by a child protection charity and the English Football Association after former player Andy Woodward told the Guardian newspaper about the abuse he suffered as a boy in Crewe’s youth academy.
Woodward’s revelations prompted a huge response from victims with similar stories and 83 potential suspects have been identified at 98 clubs.
Those numbers look set to grow as the NSPCC helpline has taken 1,767 calls as of December 13.
“It’s clear that for far too long, hundreds of people who suffered abuse as youngsters in the game have not been able to speak up, but it is encouraging that so many are finally finding their voice in a climate today where they know they will be listened to and supported,” NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said.
“What’s important now is that those victims get that much-needed support, and that perpetrators are identified and brought to justice by police.”
Earlier this week, the Metropolitan Police revealed it was looking at more than 106 claims of abuse related to 30 clubs, including four Premier League teams.
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