BP #12 Soccer Players in England Speak Out About Sexual Abuse as Boys

In a recent interview with former Crewe Alexandra (soccer club) player, Andy Woodward stated that as a child he had been sexually abused by former coach Barry Bennell, who has a past record of sexual abuse charges. In the interview he said that he suffered years of abuse by his coach beginning at the age of eleven and was silenced with threats of violence as well as threats to his soccer career. Following the interview, four other players also made statements. One player, also from Crewe Alexandria, said he was abused for a year until the age of fourteen. Two others recalled abuse or attempted abuse in their years of playing for a different team of Bennell’s. The fourth player reported being raped “hundreds of times” while also playing for an armature soccer team. After the interview was published, six other former players came forward publicly stating that they too been molested as boys in the soccer program, as well as two dozen more who made private statements. That one interview ended up revealing an ongoing and wide spread problem throughout all of England’s Football Association, which is now being investigated.

From a very young age we are taught to obey those with authority over us. As children we generally obey blindly before learning to interpret what is being asked of us, simply because “we were told to do so”. Barry Bennell being a coach of numerous clubs across England as well as a scout and having the ability to move a child’s soccer career forward, found power over these young boys. By using a combination of his power, threats, of both violence and to their soccer career, and the vulnerability of young kids to obey blindly, he was able to commit these wrong actions. Like the ring of Gyges, Bennell was able to sexually abuse multiple boys and get away with it by exerting his power over them, until now. Barry Bennell is currently being charged with eight counts of sexual assault against a boy under the age of fourteen following evidence from police. I wonder, had he known he would eventually be charged for sexual abuse would he still have done it?


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