Police plea to victims of football abuse as claims surface

In February, the force said it had received 140 reports of alleged abuse. Picture: TSPL

In February, the force said it had received 140 reports of alleged abuse. Picture: TSPL

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Police Scotland have appealed for any abuse victims to contact them as fresh allegations of sexual offences in youth football came to light.

A BBC documentary heard from alleged victims of a Celtic Boys Club coach and revealed new claims about former youth coach Gordon Neely, who died in 2014.

Two players at the boys club, which was a separate entity from Celtic Football Club, told the programme Football Abuse: The Ugly Side Of The Beautiful Game they were abused for three and four years respectively in the 1980s and 90s.

The sport has been rocked by claims from former players across the UK that they were abused by people in positions of authority, and Police Scotland launched a major inquiry into non-recent child abuse in football at the end of last year.

In February, the force said it had received 140 reports of alleged abuse.

READ MORE: Hundreds allege attacks in football child abuse probe

A number of professional clubs have started internal investigations, while the SFA has set up an independent review into allegations across the game in Scotland.

Detective Chief Inspector Sarah Taylor, from the National Child Abuse Investigation Unit, said: “Child abuse is incredibly difficult for people to revisit and to talk about.

“Our officers are highly specialist and are trained to deal with all reports sensitively. We would ask anyone who has been the victim of abuse, or has information about potential abuse, to contact us.

“We will listen and we will investigate and our first priority will be to ensure that there are no children at risk now.

“If you have suffered sexual abuse, or if you can assist this investigation or you know anyone who may have been a victim, then please call Police Scotland on 101. Or you can call the NSPCC helpline on 0800 023 2642.”

SFA chief executive Stewart Regan said: “The independent review into allegations of historic child sexual abuse in Scottish football is currently under way and we await its findings.

“The latest allegations are a matter for the investigatory authority, Police Scotland.

“We would urge anyone who has suffered abuse to come forward using the dedicated, confidential NSPCC 24-hour helpline 0800 023 2642, directly to the police on 101 or via email to the Scottish FA at childrenswellbeing@scottishfa.co.uk.”

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