Multiple football 'sex abusers' reported to police

The claims continue to grow in recent days

Multiple football 'sex abusers' reported to police

Barry Bennell. Picture by PA PA Wire/PA Images

Allegations of historical sexual abuse in football have been made against "more than one individual", Cheshire Police say.

The force said it was receiving a growing number of disclosures - including via the NSPCC - about historical abuse carried out against youth players.Officers are contacting individuals who have come forward with claims.

It comes as former Tottenham and England midfielder Paul Stewart told Sky News he was convinced he had to put up with sexual abuse as a young boy if he wanted to achieve his dream of becoming a professional footballer.

The 52-year-old revealed this week he had been assaulted by a coach for four years between the ages of 11 and 15 as he played for junior football teams.

Speaking to Sky News, he revealed his attacker threatened to kill his parents and two brothers if he spoke about the abuse and won over his family so he could continue to prey on him. He said: "I knew it wasn't right, and it's such a long time ago to remember everything and obviously I'm struggling now to remember everything that happened."

"But from then on he systematically groomed me, and befriended my parents with a view to eventually the abuse getting worse and worse and him manoeuvring his way to see me every day almost."

"When you're young and you want to become a footballer, which is all I ever wanted to do, and you are told that these are the things you need to do, if you say anything I will kill your parents and your two brothers, then it's very difficult not to believe at that age that that will be carried through."

"That's when it becomes difficult because they ingratiate themselves to your family, whilst behind the scenes they are abusing you sexually."

Mr Stewart, who also played for Liverpool, Blackpool and Manchester City, said he knew of two others who were abused by the same coach. And he said the impact of the abuse has had a lasting effect on his life.

"I got into drugs and became addicted to drugs, I turned to drink on many occasions, and I'd been unable to show any sort of emotion to my children, to my wife, in the form of saying 'I love you' or putting my arms around them."

"It's been very difficult over the 41 years, but they seem to have accepted that's Dad and that's the way Dad is. I feel so guilty for them having to suffer and endure my problems over the years that we've been together."
It comes as a number of former players or youth trainees have come forward to report they were the victims of sexual abuse."

Andy Woodward, Steve Walters and David White have said they were assaulted by former youth coach and scout Barry Bennell, who was jailed on three separate occasions for abusing young boys. Northumbria Police is also investigating a claim that a former Newcastle United player was abused while in the club's youth training scheme.

England captain Wayne Rooney has urged players who have been sexually abused to call a new helpline so they no longer "suffer in silence". Praising the bravery of those who have come forward, he said: "It's awful that some of my colleagues have suffered this way while playing the sport that I and they love.

"Andy (Woodward) has been really brave to come forward and I would encourage anyone who has or is suffering from abuse to call the NSPCC's new football helpline."

In the first two hours the NSPCC helpline has been set up, more than 50 calls have been made.

In 1998, Bennell received a nine-year sentence after admitting 23 charges of sexual offences, including buggery, against six boys aged nine to 15. He had been arrested when he was deported following a four-year prison sentence in Florida for raping and indecently assaulting a 13-year-old British boy on a football tour.

Bennell was convicted for a third time for sexual abuse in 2015 and received a two-year sentence. He is reported to have been released on licence.