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18 Mar 2021 231

Statement on the Sheldon report

UK Coaching's statement on the Sheldon report into allegations of non-recent child sexual abuse in football.

The publication of Clive Sheldon QC’s independent report into allegations of non-recent child sexual abuse in football is shocking and saddening.

UK Coaching recognises the courage and bravery of the individuals affected to come forward and speak about their experiences. Their action has been vital in highlighting the historical failings in safeguarding children and young people.  

UK Coaching is committed to making the welfare of children and young people paramount.

As the FA has stated in its response, ‘mistakes of the past’ must be acknowledged and everything must be done to ensure history is never repeated. We support all the recommendations within the Sheldon report and wholly support the FA in realising them.

For more than 20 years, we have worked closely with the NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) to set standards and to raise awareness amongst coaches of how to recognise and respond to signs of child abuse. We work with all governing bodies of sport to train and educate coaches and develop formal procedures for dealing with child protection issues in sport. Since 2006, over 265,000 coaches and volunteers have undertaken our Safeguarding and Protecting Children workshops.

The UK Coaching Code of Practice for Sports Coaches outlines what constitutes as good coaching practice. In the Code, under the principle of ‘Relationships’, it states that: ‘Coaches must develop a relationship with their participants (and others) based on openness, honesty, mutual trust and respect.' Part of a coach’s responsibility is not to engage in behaviour that constitutes any form of abuse, whether that is physical, sexual, neglect, emotional, bullying.

Additionally, our Duty to Care Toolkit, of which safeguarding is a central pillar, ensures coaches are sufficiently equipped to deliver great coaching – and thereby, put participant welfare at the top of their priority list.

Coaches who abide by our code, and the law, and keep themselves current through ongoing continued professional development, will create healthy, positive environments for participants to thrive in; developing skills and fitness and building lifelong connections to keeping active – whatever their performance level.

It is imperative that anyone involved in sport and physical activity provision for children and young people is alert to:

  • Possible indicators of abuse and neglect.
  • Risks that individual abusers or potential abusers may pose to children.
  • Understanding what actions they should take should concerns arise.

It is also important to remember that the vast majority of coaches provide great coaching and support to millions of people across the UK to strive for their own outcomes through sport and physical activity, however, constant review is necessary to ensure the safety of all participants.

We will work with partners and organisations to ensure we continue to learn lessons and evolve the processes and practices to protect all those who participate in sport and physical activity.