The English Football Association’s review of sexual abuse by youth soccer coaches linked to professional clubs has expanded as more victims come forward, the governing body said Tuesday after appointing a new lead lawyer.
Clive Sheldon, a lawyer with child protection expertise, will head the review in place of Kate Gallafent “in the light of the increased scope of the review,” the FA said in a statement.
Former players have been going public over the last three weeks revealing abuses as children by coaches from the 1970s, prompting investigations by 18 British police forces into incidents reported by 450 people.
“The precise number of players, alleged abusers and clubs as yet is unknown,” the FA said, announcing the terms of reference for its review.
At least 55 clubs, professional and amateur, have been implicated in the escalating scandal. London club Queens Park Rangers became the latest club on Tuesday to say “it has been made aware of the historical allegations” of child abuse against a former scout tasked with spotting talent.
The FA said its review will investigate what clubs linked to sexual abusers “did or did not know and/or did or did not do in relation to child sexual abuse which have been brought to light in the press relating to the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, and up until around 2005.”
The FA has expressed concern the clubs agreed to secret compensation deals that prevented the victims from speaking out about the abuse they suffered. Chelsea apologized over the weekend to a former player who was sexually abused while a member of the club’s youth team and who was paid 50,000 pounds ($77,500) to keep the matter out of the public domain.