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Men and Boys Coalition calls for policy action in response to football abuse scandal

The Men and Boys Coalition has today published a position statement in response to the unfolding football sexual abuse scandal, calling on all relevant authorities to take positive steps to support survivors and the organisations that work with them.

The Coalition urges that the scandal be seen in context of the wider framework of policy and administration for male survivors, which in many respects and locations can be wholly inadequate.

The statement follows extensive consultation with Coalition members who are leading charities and academics, both in supporting male survivors of sexual abuse and researching the dynamics of sexual violence against men and boys.

Please see the statement in full below.

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Men and Boys Coalition

Position statement on political and administrative responses to
reported child sexual abuse in professional football

Organisations working with male survivors of sexual abuse and sexual violence have been significantly challenged by the unfolding scale and severity of reported incidents of child abuse connected to professional football clubs. Our members have seen increased demands upon their services, partly from individuals directly affected by this specific issue, but also from many other men and boys who have been moved by the testimony of former footballers to seek support or help with recovery from abuse in other contexts.

The Men and Boys Coalition applauds all those who break the silence on sexual abuse, whether privately or publicly, and we offer particular tribute to the strength and courage of Andy Woodward and his fellow former professionals who helped to bring this scandal to light.

The Coalition further notes that organisations supporting male survivors do not operate in a political and financial vacuum, but depend upon a framework of policy and administration, which in many respects and locations can be wholly inadequate. In that light, we urge all relevant authorities to make the following commitments:

  1. We call on authorities within the game, including clubs and national bodies such as the FA, SFA, PFA, Football League and Premier League, to fully and thoroughly investigate their own institutional responsibilities and offer transparency on any previous or current organisational failures in child protection, whether by neglect, omission or commission. We strongly recommend that such investigations also consider how sexual abuse may have been more easily covered-up or even enabled by prevailing social dynamics within the sport, such as cultures of homophobia, sexism and hypermasculinity. Furthermore, we recommend the sport considers the actions it can take to help tackle some of the gender issues that affect men and boys, such as childhood sexual abuse.
  2. We call on all providers of health and social care services, at national and local level, to ensure that all survivors of sexual violence have access to specialist support and recovery services and that any gaps in provision are identified and filled. All such provision must be appropriate to the needs of survivors and include specialised gender-specific services and the option for specialist long-term counselling or psychotherapy where necessary.
  3. We call on statutory and charitable funding bodies to prioritise support for survivors of sexual violence, and to ensure that funding streams that are available for such work do not discriminate against male survivors on grounds of their gender by, for instance, categorising these activities within a ‘women and diversity’ stream.
  4. We support widespread calls for the Department of Education to implement immediate and radical reform of sex and relationships education (SRE) in schools. We propose that such reforms be gender-inclusive and fully address the needs of boys and young men, including their rights to consent and to protection from unwanted sexual contact.
  5. We call on the Home Office and all other government departments and quangos to immediately end the practice of including male survivors within their ‘Violence against Women and Girls’ strategy and to instead develop parallel, gender-appropriate strategies to address all forms of violence against men and boys including intimate and interpersonal violence.

Prepared on behalf of the Men and Boys Coalition, by:

Ally Fogg, co-founder, Men and Boys Coalition
Keith Best, CEO, Survivors UK
Duncan Craig, CEO, Survivors Manchester
Bob Balfour, CEO, Survivors West Yorkshire
Phil Mitchell, Project Manager, BLAST Project
Martyn Sullivan, Mankind