More English football players talk about their sexual abuse experiences as young boys, with one accusing clubs of covering up a paedophile ring.
LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (NOVEMBER 25, 2016) (BBC TWO/VICTORIA DERBYSHIRE) – A conspiracy existed to cover up details of a paedophile ring operating among young footballers in north-west England, a former Manchester City youth team player, who said he was a victim of the abuse, claimed on Friday (November 25).
Jason Dunford was one of four men who waived their anonymity to appear in a BBC television programme.
All of them said they suffered abuse from a youth team coach who was subsequently sent to prison.
They spoke out as Cheshire police announced that allegations have now been made against “more than one individual” in relation to historic abuse of young footballers.
In tears on the Victoria Derbyshire show, Andy Woodward who went public last week said “I’m just totally overwhelmed.”
Chris Unsworth who was a Crewe Alexandra youth team player described how he was raped up to 100 times.
“I sat at home and I thought about this and I thought ‘I’ve got to come forward. I’ve got to come forward and help everybody’.”
Unsworth, 44, was at Manchester City and Crewe in the mid-1980s with coach Barry Bennell, who subsequently served three prison sentences for child sex offences.
The abuse started when he was nine years old, Unsworth said. He left football at 16 and became a professional golfer.
Unsworth is waiting to be interviewed by Cheshire police, who said on Friday that officers were contacting everyone who had disclosed information to them.
“I believe there was a conspiracy, there was a paedophile ring,” the former Manchester City youth team player Jason Dunford said on the show.
Dunford compared Bennell to Jimmy Savile, the late BBC television star revealed after his death to have been one of Britain’s most prolific sex offenders.
“I think Savile looks like a choir boy compared to this fella and what’s going on right now,” said Dunford.
A number of former players, including the Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and England international Paul Stewart, have come forward to speak about being abused in the 1980s while involved with clubs in the north-west.
Stewart said in a series of interviews that he believed “hundreds” could be affected.
In his weekly news conference, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said he was “surprised and amazed” at the allegations.
The National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children received 50 calls within two hours of setting up a hotline on Thursday (November 24).
The charity’s Head of Helplines, John Cameron said the calls were still coming in.
Cheshire police urged others to come forward.
Hampshire police said they were also investigating a case of child sex abuse within football.
Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers Association, said there could be many more allegations made over the coming days.
“I don’t want to be hostage to fortune and say there’s not going to be many more when there could literally be hundreds more,” he said.
The Football Association said criminal record checks were required for all those working with children and that more than 35,000 people went through an awareness workshop or tailored training every season.