FIFA ‘monitoring’ child sex abuse claims, alleged perpetrator found ‘unconscious’

FIFA ‘monitoring’ child sex abuse claims, alleged perpetrator found ‘unconscious’
World football’s governing body FIFA says it is “monitoring” developments in England after more than 20 former players came forward alleging sexual abuse in their youth careers.

According to England’s Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) chief executive Gordon Taylor, "six or seven clubs" were potentially implicated, including Leeds United and Newcastle United.

"We are aware of the allegations," a FIFA statement read. "FIFA considers the protection of children and young people as fundamental in football and we will monitor the situation closely."

The FA, England's Football Association, launched an enquiry into the claims on Sunday, while at least four UK police departments are investigating separate allegations.

An FA statement confirmed the governing body will work alongside the police to "ensure we do not do anything to interfere with or jeopardize the criminal process."

Lawyer Kate Gallafent will lead the FA's investigation, which is looking at what was known about the sexual abuse during the 1980s and 90s and what action was or should have been taken.

Ex-professional footballer Andy Woodward was the first player to go public with his story, recounting how we was abused by former coach Barry Bennell while playing for English side Crewe Alexandra during that period.

The club, based in Cheshire, has launched its own inquiry into the allegations.

It has emerged that Bennell, who was convicted of sexual abuse offenses in the US in 1994 and in the UK in 1998 and 2015, has been taken to hospital after what police called a “fear for welfare incident.”

A source confirmed to that the man found unconscious at a Novotel hotel in Stevenage was Bennell – who also goes by the name Richard Jones.

"Police officers attended an address in Knebworth Park, Stevenage just before 11pm on Friday in connection with a fear for welfare incident," a Thames Valley Police spokesman said.

"A 62-year-old man was located and was taken to hospital in order to receive medical treatment, where he remains."

A hotline set up for victims who suffered abuse while playing football as children received over 50 phone calls after being set up on Thursday.

Cheshire Police confirmed it had received a "growing number of disclosures" relating to "non-recent child sexual abuse linked to football."

Leading personalities across English football offered their support, including national team captain and NSPCC ambassador Wayne Rooney.