Football Abuse Scandal: How To Ensure Safer Recruitment in Sport

Football Abuse Scandal: How To Ensure Safer Recruitment in Sport

Since news of the UK’s football abuse scandal broke in November 2016, over 150 individuals have been identified as potential suspects. Such a widespread scandal calls into question the effectiveness of sport recruitment procedures.

Within three weeks of ex-professional footballer Andy Woodward speaking out against his abuser, a dedicated NSPCC helpline received more than 1,700 claims of historic sexual abuse. At the time of the abuse, the victims ranged between the ages of four and twenty. Many turned away from the sport after the incident occurred.

The Statistics Behind the Scandal

The scale of the football abuse scandal is far greater than initially assumed. In just a few months since the initial revelation, around 429 victims have been identified. The below infographic shows some of the most damning statistics behind the problem.

Infographic about the football abuse scandal in the UK

With such a high number of victims, the policies of youth sports coaching have been brought into doubt. As a result of the investigation’s findings, 99% of FA-affiliated clubs have renewed their safeguarding procedures. But the scandal casts the hiring processes of Britain’s top footballing sides in a damaging light and exposes the need for improved safer recruitment training at every level. So how exactly can sports teams restructure their recruitment process?

Tackling the Football Abuse Scandal with Safer Recruitment Training

So how can safer recruitment training play a part in stopping incidents like these at sports clubs?  The fact that child abuse has occurred in 148 clubs only serves to highlight the critical flaws in the sport’s employment process. Without safer recruitment training, abuse is possible even at the apex of the sport. Having a system like safer recruitment training in place at football clubs, sports clubs, or any organisation ensures every precaution is taken to stop the problem at the source: by identifying questionable candidates and omitting them from the selection process.

Children’s safety should be the number one priority in every aspect of your organisation. Increasing awareness of potential dangers helps those with a duty of care implement safeguarding guidelines in their hiring procedures. While a candidate may seem like a great fit, it’s important that you acquire a complete profile of their history.

Most hiring processes rely on a candidate’s own word. But, when a child’s welfare is at stake, an objective account is vital. Potential employees must do more than tick the boxes. They must demonstrate an understanding of child safeguarding in sport. Safer recruitment training refocuses employment decisions and fosters a supportive and protective environment for children.

Safer Recruitment Training Protects Children and Employees

But it’s not just football that fails to promote a culture of safety. Wherever a sporting hierarchy exists, there are opportunities for abusers to infiltrate the ranks. Safer recruitment and child protection training must, therefore, become a mandatory practice.

Pre-recruitment planning is necessary in all fields of sport. Employers need to identify every aspect of a candidate's application that may pose a risk. The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act (2006) provides a comprehensive overview of safer recruitment policies. With further duty of care training, sports groups can gain a stronger understanding of these guidelines.

Introducing safer recruitment training will force all clubs to remain frank and open about their hiring decisions. Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) certificates must be attributed to all members of staff, so parents and organisations know that new employees have been vetted.

Ensuring the protection of children should be the highest priority for every sporting organisation. Safer recruitment training doesn’t end with the interviewing process. New coaches should be supervised and observed in the weeks and months following their appointment. Children approach sport with an innocent enthusiasm and this must be preserved in all circumstances.

Safer recruitment and child protection training courses form part of our EduCare for Sport® training course package. To find out more get in contact with EduCare today. You can either call us on 01926 436 211 or reach out to us via our contact page. Free demonstrations of our online training courses are available upon request.   

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