“Football’s Darkest Secret”

BBC Football's Darkest Secret

BBC documentary goes “behind the goals, behind the glory.”

“Footballs Darkest Secret” is a BBC documentary exploring abuse allegations in football.

It features survivors talking about the abuse they suffered as children. It’s a harrowing watch. But the show also highlights the power of finally speaking out.

You can watch this three-part documentary on the BBC’s website. 

“This Terrible History”

Clive Sheldon QC recently published his independent report into allegations of non-recent child sexual abuse in football.

In the introduction to his report, the QC wrote:

We need to recognise and face up to what happened in the past. But it is also important that this terrible history is not repeated. So we need to do everything possible to safeguard the current and future generations of young players.

I hope that this Report will make some contribution towards that.

You can learn more about the Sheldon report, and read the FA’s response, here.

I Want to Be An Enabler of Safer Sport

While watching “Football’s Darkest Secret,” there were many times that I wanted to turn the TV off. I was finding it so distressing. The descriptions of sexual abuse were some of the most graphic I’ve ever heard on national TV.

But I stayed and watched and listened. The footballers now have a voice. I felt a personal responsibility to hear their stories. To learn from them and integrate them into the work that ACT does in supporting sport and activity organisations to embed safeguarding.

I do not want to be a passive bystander to this. I don’t want to enable poor practice and abuse by my inaction. Instead, I want to be an enabler of safer sport.

We Must Learn the Lessons

Everyone has the right to take part in sport and activity free from abuse and neglect. There are grave consequences when this does not happen. It impacts everyone: The individual, their family, the clubs, the Governing Bodies, the funders, and the wider sport community.

We must learn the lessons.

As individuals we must speak out when we see poor practice and neglect. We must champion safeguarding in our roles. We cannot just wait for victims to come forward.

It’s not enough to simply introduce safeguarding policy and procedures for your organisation. Instead, you must embed safeguarding throughout your entire organisation.

We all need to know what good safeguarding looks like. We all must implement measures to create safer cultures that are proactive in putting in place preventative measures, as well as processes to protect.

Safeguarding Future Generations of Players

Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility. So if you are involved in sport and activity, you can help safeguard future generations of players.

We have a range of resources that’ll help you make sport and activity safer for everyone:

  • Understand your role in safeguarding. Watch Club Matters’ short video introduction to safeguarding in sport. Learn more.
  • Understand your duty of care responsibilities. So what does “duty of care” look like in a sport setting? Read our guide.
  • Embrace The Care Act’s six principles of safeguarding. Empowerment. Prevention. Proportionality. Protection. Partnership. Accountability. Learn more.
  • Test your safeguarding knowledge. Complete our Safeguarding Checklist to find out how much you understand safeguarding. You’ll also be able to access key resources to help you fill any gaps in your knowledge. Start here.
  • Assess your organisation’s policies and procedures. Sign up for the ACT Safeguarding Framework. You’ll get tailored guidance to help you implement best practice in your organisation. Start here.
  • Get online training. Take our “Setting Club Standards” eLearning course. It’s a quick introduction to safeguarding in sport. Start here.