I beg to move,
That this House
has considered positions of trust and sports coaches.
It is a pleasure, as always, to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Paisley. In November 2016, former Crewe Alexandra player Andy Woodward waived his anonymity to become the first player to publicly reveal that he was sexually abused as a child by former coach Barry Bennell. Woodward’s bravery led to others coming forward to speak about their experiences of shocking abuse.
Within a few days, the Football Association and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children had set up a hotline dedicated to helping footballers who had experienced historical sexual abuse. In the first week, the hotline received nearly 900 calls. Football was in the middle of a major safeguarding scandal, but the problem was not limited to football. Athletes from different sports spoke out about their experiences of historical sexual abuse at the hands of coercive coaches or managers who were intent on getting what they wanted by using—or rather, abusing—their position of trust.
I was Sports Minister at that time, and I remember feeling an element of pride in how sport reacted to those horrific stories. The FA did what it had to do for football and the same was done for other sports. Within a relatively short time, sport as a whole, while recognising that many of the incidents in the press were historical and took place before much of our child protection legislation was in place, instigated internal changes to safeguarding practices to ensure that procedures were in place to maximise protection against abuse in sport.