Tags: youth soccer | united kingdom | andy woodward | abuse

Youth Soccer Passes a Milestone of Misery

Youth Soccer Passes a Milestone of Misery
Former footballer and victim of abuse Andy Woodward poses after a press conference at the launch of The Offside Trust in Manchester on December 5, 2016. The Offside Trust was launched to help victims of abuse and has been created by Andy Woodward, Steve Walters, and Chris Unsworth, who were all the victims of historic child abuse. (Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images)

By Saturday, 11 March 2017 01:57 PM Current | Bio | Archive

In the UK the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children announced a previous record has been shattered. When the serial pedophile and BBC star Jimmy Saville was exposed for abusing children who appeared on his kid’s TV show there were 17 referrals made from the NSPCC hotline to find treatment for victims in the first three days.

Now there is an even bigger scandal involving UK youth soccer teams and in the first days the hotline was up and running Time magazine reports more than 60 referrals have been made, marking a new milestone in misery.

Saville is said to have claimed at least 500 victims during his 54-year sex abuse rampage, but the youth soccer abuse may prove to be even more extensive. So far there are reports of molestation connected with 248 youth soccer clubs.

The rapidly growing total of abusers and victims is simply appalling.

So far "Operation Hydrant," the name given to the effort to root out the perpetrators of the abuse, has identified 184 suspects and a shocking 526 victims, according to The Guardian. The victims are 97 percent male and the ages when predators snatched them are between four and 20.

Once again this scandal is a story of unconscionable negligence on the part of the people who were supposed to be protecting the children and parents who were either too trusting or too oblivious to save their own sons.

The story broke when retired pro soccer player Andy Woodward came forward to reveal he was abused by his coach who selected him for the all-star Crewe Alexandra Football Club in the 1980s and 90s.

The coach, Barry Bennell, convinced the parents to let Woodward stay in Bennell’s house on weekends and holidays.

Woodward said the abuse was common knowledge among the players who delighted in telling new players what the coach had in store for "the softer, weaker boys." Bennell used threats of violence and promises to end the boy’s soccer career to make them keep their terrible secret.

Bennell wasn’t content to confine his abuse to Woodward. When he was 14, the coach began a sexual relationship with his 16-year-old sister. In Woodward’s words, "I was frightened to death because he had complete power over me by that stage. It was like a double whammy and he would try to abuse me sometimes even with my sister in the same house."

When his parents found out, they didn’t take a cricket bat to Bennell; they had him over for dinner and later let this predator marry their daughter.

Bennell was jailed for abuse in 1998 and new cases have come to light in 2015 and 2016. That’s what finally gave Woodward the strength to come forward and reveal the extent of the corruption and moral rot in UK youth soccer.

The lesson for this story is parents have to be vigilant at all times with everyone and particularly with those in authority over their children. Monitor the contact your child has with adults and don’t let him or her spend the night away from home with another adult.

Woodward’s life was in ruins for decades. He is just now climbing out of the pit in which Bennell threw him. Don’t let it happen to your children.

Michael Reagan, the eldest son of President Reagan, is a Newsmax TV analyst. A syndicated columnist and author, he chairs The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Michael is an in-demand speaker with Premiere speaker’s bureau. Read more reports from Michael Reagan — Go Here Now.

© Mike Reagan

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In the UK the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children announced a previous record has been shattered.
youth soccer, united kingdom, andy woodward, abuse
Saturday, 11 March 2017 01:57 PM
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