Child Abuse At Sports Centres & Football Clubs

Partaking in extracurricular activities and pursuing hobbies at sports centres and football clubs is a pastime for most children in the UK. In the vast majority of cases, children are free to enjoy this experience and participation at clubs can be enriching and rewarding.

Child Abuse At Sports Centres & Football Clubs

Very public revelations about child abuse at youth football clubs cast serious doubt on the safety of children taking part in extracurricular activities and raised a number of questions over the vetting process and background checks that went into the football coaches and other members of staff at youth clubs.

The long-term psychological effect of sexual abuse on survivors means that many former footballers and sports participants took decades to disclose the abuse they suffered as a child. Once one former professional footballer waived his right to anonymity and spoke out about the abuse he suffered at a large youth football club the NSPCC were inundated with hundreds of calls from other survivors who also suffered from abuse at a youth football club.

Child abuse at football clubs and sports centres represents a distinct negligence of care, as those responsible for protecting children while they partake in their hobbies failed and exposed children to abusers; due to the serious failure in duty of care, those who suffered abuse at a youth football team or sports centre could be eligible for compensation.

While no amount of money will ever repair the damage done by abuse as a child, gaining compensation for historic sexual abuse at a sports centre, football team, or youth club can help survivors gain some semblance of closure and help ensure that an abuser faces justice.

At Simpson Millar, our child abuse claims team understands the fact that survivors of child abuse carry their past with them for the rest of their lives and we appreciate the serious adverse effect child abuse has on future relationships and a survivor's personality.

Abuse Environment

Once details of the abuse suffered by children in youth clubs across the UK had been published, it became clear that there was a distinct environment for abuse in youth clubs, an environment that football's governing body, the FA, should have spotted and addressed before children were abused.

Generally speaking, the characteristics of youth clubs are much the same as other forms of institutional abuse, namely:

  • A clear figure of authority, who can use their position to manipulate both children and their parents; in the instance of football clubs this could be coaches, scouts, or any other members of staff involved with training and matches
  • An activity supported by parents, meaning that they would be unlikely to suspect any wrongdoing; in terms of football, parents are likely to trust clubs and are not likely to think that their child will be in harm while they are partaking in a hobby
  • Opportunities to be alone with victims; this could be overnight during football tournaments or for extended periods of time between training and during travel to and from matches
  • Access to children without extensive background checks; while the FA have since increased their policies on background checks, it has been recognised that they failed in their duty of care decades ago

Worryingly, many of these characteristics are not unique to football, meaning that other sports and youth activities could soon face its own abuse scandal; for those abused at other sports clubs, for example rugby or athletics clubs, the right to bring an abuser to justice by claiming compensation are the same as those abused at football clubs.

Effects Of Abuse

Our Head of Abuse Law, Peter Garsden, is President of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers (ACAL) and was one of the first solicitors to represent an abuse victim with a civil claim back in 1994.

This experience ensures that our entire abuse team are empathetic of the difficulties abuse victims face stepping forward and challenging their abuser.

We understand the long-term effects of abuse and appreciate that in most cases an abuser will have had a huge psychological, as well as a deep personal, effect over their victims. This psychological effect can often make victims scared or nervous to speak out, but with the support of a passionate and dedicated team of experts we find that survivors are able to face their abuser and begin rebuilding their life by seeking closure on the darkest chapter of their life.

Handling every case with compassion, respect, understanding, and – above all – confidentiality we can help abuse victims pursue justice, no matter what club or centre was to blame for failing in their basic duty of care.

We understand the long-term effects of abuse and appreciate that in most cases an abuser will have had a huge psychological, as well as a deep personal, effect over their victims. This psychological effect can often make victims scared or nervous to speak out, but with the support of a passionate and dedicated team of experts we find that survivors are able to face their abuser and begin rebuilding their life by seeking closure on the darkest chapter of their life.

Handling every case with compassion, respect, understanding, and – above all – confidentiality we can help abuse victims pursue justice, no matter what club or centre was to blame for failing in their basic duty of care.

If you suffered abuse at a football team, or any other sports club, you can be sure Simpson Millar's team of abuse law experts will support you at every step on your road to justice. When you choose Simpson Millar for support you receive:

If you suffered abuse at a football team, or any other sports club, you can be sure Simpson Millar's team of abuse law experts will support you at every step on your road to justice. When you choose Simpson Millar for support you receive:


Why Should You Choose Simpson Millar?

Simpson Millar's solicitors specialising in abuse claims are amongst leading experts in the UK and have been looking out for vulnerable people for over 150 years. We're proud to always put our client's interests first and fight tirelessly for fair and just outcomes.

Our down to earth and committed team are well equipped to handle even the most complex abuse cases; we approach all cases with empathy and make the relationship between you and us as comfortable as possible.

Peter Garsden who heads up the Abuse Law team at Simpson Millar LLP is also President of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers (ACAL).


It's easy to arrange a quiet, non-obligatory chat with someone who cares. Simply complete the online enquiry form, or call us on 0808 129 3320. We'll be delighted to run you past the legal facts to help you decide about a claim.


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