Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell has reiterated an apology to survivors on behalf of the national game following the publication of an independent review of sexual abuse in Scottish football.
Martin Henry, the chair of the independent review, and his team, have spent the past three years in undertaking a comprehensive review of non-recent sexual abuse in Scottish football.
The review has made recommendations that the game is implementing at all levels to ensure a safer future for young footballers, and, crucially, have given survivors a voice that was previously denied to them.
The review invited individuals affected by sexual abuse in Scottish football between the 1970s and early 1990s to come forward and provide personal accounts and recollections to allow the review to address three key questions:
• Who in Scottish football knew of these allegations at the time?
• What did they know?
• What did they do as a result?
The review engaged directly with 240 individuals as part of the process. A further 71 individuals who had been personally affected by sexual abuse in Scottish football, including family members and friends, were identified and engaged with the review.
In total 33 individuals provided personal accounts including allegations of sexual abuse in Scottish football directly to the review.
The review found most did not confide in anyone or report the abuse at the time but that there were suspicions and hearsay regarding individuals which should have been investigated thoroughly.
In the instances where action was taken fundamental flaws were found such as:
• clubs not sharing information with relevant parties within football,
• not formally reporting concerns, suspicions or allegations to the investigating authorities,
•not conducting due diligence in the appointment, re-appointment, or continued engagement of particular individuals to roles or positions in a club or organisation,
• not anticipating or assessing risk in relation to the participation of young people in football activity.
Maxwell said: “As chief executive of the Scottish FA I am deeply upset by the contents of the final report into sexual abuse in Scottish football and, in particular, by the deeply personal, traumatic experiences endured by young players who were abused by people in whom they and their families placed their trust.
“I reiterate my sincerest apology on behalf of Scottish football to all who have experienced abuse in our national game.”
Maxwell acknowledges the personal testimony provided by survivors and hopes the painful lessons from the past can lead to a higher standard of wellbeing and protections for youngsters in Scottish football.
He said: “The report also recognises the progress that the Scottish FA and its members have made to achieve the highest standards of wellbeing and protection for children and young people to play our national sport safely today.
“Since the board issued a directive in 2016 we can report that 80% of the original recommendations are either completed or in progress.
“The work is ongoing, overseen by the independent wellbeing and protection advisory board and implemented through our wellbeing and protection department: themselves evidence of our commitment to the review and its recommendations.
“As the report also states, football provides a tremendous outlet for young people in Scotland and it is the responsibility of everyone involved in Scottish football to protect and cultivate that for future generations.”