English football sexual abuse scandal has much in common with the Catholic Church
Andrew Woodward grew up with a football between his feet. His room, in a workingclass housing estate, was filled with posters of famous players and his head with dreams of becoming a defender for England. When he was 9, he scored a goal from the halfway line in a school match and raced across the field into the arms of his father, who said he was “the proudest dad in the world.”
Two years later, Woodward was spotted by Barry Bennell, a well-known scout and youth coach in northern England. It was September 1984, and Bennell told Woodward’s parents that he could turn their son into a professional player. Could he come train at Crewe Alexandra, a professional club, and stay with him on weekends to improve his skills?
It would prove to be the beginning of a four year ordeal of harrowing sexual abuse — and it has turned out not to be the only one. After scandals in children’s homes, in the Roman Catholic Church, in the police and in the entertainment industry, where the child abuser Jimmy Savile is said to have assaulted dozens of youngsters, football is the latest British institution to face allegations of the sexual exploitation of children on a broad scale.
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