LONDON (Reuters) – The British government said on Tuesday it was asking all national sporting governing bodies to increase their efforts to protect children, following allegations of young boys being sexually abused at professional soccer clubs.
English soccer’s governing body said on Sunday it had appointed an independent lawyer to oversee an internal investigation after former soccer players told British media they were sexually abused as children at English clubs.
Police are also investigating mounting accusations of pedophile activity in youth teams, which victims say has gone unreported for decades.
The government set out its response to the allegations, saying it could not comment directly on police investigations, but that those involved in youth sport had a duty of care to children and must speak out if they suspected abuse.
“The Minister for Sport will write to all national governing bodies to ask them to redouble their effort in protecting children that play their sports,” Karen Bradley, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, told parliament.
Bradley also said she had convened a meeting with the English Football Association and police to discuss the issue.
(Reporting by William James; editing by Stephen Addison)