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Sector can’t be complacent about child welfare, says Sports and Recreation Alliance chief

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The chief executive of the Sport and Recreation Alliance has urged the sector to guard against complacency when it comes to safeguarding children following high-profile allegations of sexual abuse in football.

Emma Boggis released a statement this morning (29 November) to stress that protecting children is a “very serious issue” and that allegations made “need to be properly investigated”.

“The emergence of allegations of historical abuse clearly warns us against any hint of complacency in the sector,” said Boggis.

“It is important that organisations keep their policies and procedures under review and many of our members work with the NSPCC Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) to ensure they are up to date and follow best practice.”

Earlier this month, former professional footballer Andy Woodward alleged that convicted paedophile Barry Bennell sexually abused him when he was a schoolboy at Crewe Alexandra Football Club.

Since the revelations came to light, more than 20 former professional footballers have made similar accusations, prompting police investigations in Cheshire, Hampshire, Northumbria, London and Greater Manchester.

While Boggis acknowledged that “a lot of progress” had been made in the sector with regards to child protection – progress she said would be backed up by the government’s UK Sports Governance Code and the soon-to-be-published Duty of Care Review – she urged any parents of individuals who suspect anything untoward to report it immediately.

In recent days the Football Association (FA) has launched an independent review of the abuse cases, which will be overseen by Kate Gallafent QC.

However, Conservative MP and chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee Damian Collins said the inquiry should be extended to see if there was a cultural problem in football in general, rather than just a few clubs

Fellow national governing bodies, the rugby Football Union (RFU) and Rugby Football League (RFL), have both made statements about child welfare, and signposted the NSPCC’s CPSU.

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The chief executive of the Sport and Recreation Alliance has urged the sector to guard against complacency when it comes to safeguarding children following high-profile allegations of sexual abuse in football.
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