LONDON: The Football Association has confirmed it is investigating allegations of sexual abuse in football and former players came forward to say they were sexually abused as youth players.
Four police forces are investigating the the allegations and an NSPCC hotline has had more than 100 calls.
The FA said it was working closely with police, adding it “must ensure we do not do anything to interfere with or jeopardise the criminal process”.
The FA has instructed independent leading counsel Kate Gallafent QC, who is an expert in child protection, to assist it with its review.
The FA added that the internal review will look at what information the FA was aware of at relevant times around the issues, which clubs were aware and what action was, or should have been taken.
The Child Protection in Sport Unit, which has assisted the FA in relation to its safeguarding procedures since 2000, will also carry out an independent audit into the FA’s practices.
The NSPCC hotline was set up after David White, Andy Woodward, Steve Walters and Paul Stewart all spoke out about abuse.
Ex-Crewe player Woodward, 43, initially went public on the 16 November about his abuse by former Crewe coach and youth football scout Barry Bennell, who was later convicted for sex offences against children.
Former youth team players Chris Unsworth and Jason Dunford also told BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme they had been abused by Bennell.
The players all waived their right to anonymity to speak publicly about abuse they suffered.
Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) chief executive Gordon Taylor says more than 20 former footballers have come forward regarding allegations of sexual abuse.
Taylor said at least “six or seven clubs” including Crewe, Manchester City and Newcastle were connected with “particular individuals”.
“I am expecting there will be more,” he told BBC Radio 5 live’s Sportsweek, adding he did not believe it would just be confined to north east and north west clubs.
“I am mindful it could be throughout the country where children are there; church, schools and other areas we are well acquainted with over the past few years.”
However, Taylor, 71, said none of those who had come forward were currently playing in the top four leagues in England.
He said the alleged abuse occurred to footballers aged six to 16, when players were “vulnerable young people”.
“It is the situation they are put in, the fear of telling anyone, the power of the paedophile over him and what he wanted to do for himself and his parents to achieve his dream of being a professional footballer,” added Taylor.
Karen Bradley, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, has said that victims of sexual abuse in football “must come forward”.
“Come and give your story, you will be listened to, you will be believed,” she told Pienaar’s Politics on BBC Radio 5 live.
“The only way that we can find out what happened is by getting the evidence, letting the police do investigations as appropriate and making sure we understand what went wrong”
Bradley has welcomed the FA’s inquiry.
She added: “We do need to look at this independently, we do need to make sure the FA and others who I know take this seriously, get to the bottom of this.”