Report: The Independent Review of Sexual Abuse in Scottish Football – Full Report

Football is our national game. It represents, probably, our largest and most significant cultural institution. Football’s reach touches almost every family and community in the land. Historically it has acted as an expression of our country’s aspirations and hopes often focussing the hearts and minds of our nation. For well over a century young people have benefitted from supporting and playing the game at all levels and in all parts of the country. Currently, approximately 325,000 children and young people participate in Scottish football (UEFA European Benchmark –Kantar (2019)). This is an astounding number and makes football the leading participation sport amongst children in Scotland. Many more are spectators and supporters. For some it has been the mainstay of their formative years. It is the subject of folklore and myth, of debate and passion, hopes dashed and dreams realised. But most importantly it has been a place where young people have invested their time, their ambition, their skill and their energy for generations. For some it has provided a refuge from other stresses and concerns, for others a focal point for their personal development and wellbeing leaving them with skills and benefits to last a lifetime.

However, for others, football in Scotland has come to represent a very different picture. A source of trauma and torment, a site where they experienced the unimaginable at key points in their young lives leaving many of them with legacies of trauma, pain, depression and anxiety. Football for some young people became synonymous with experiences that left an indelible negative and distressing imprint on their lives –a legacy characterised by shame, confusion and self-doubt.

The impact of these experiences and of the actions of the individuals who perpetrated them is incalculable with significant cost to personal and family relationships; mental and physical health and wellbeing; financial and material security; education and employment; community solidarity and belonging; confidence; self-acceptance; trust; and so many other aspects of their lives. For some the struggle to deal with what has happened to them within football has been extremely arduous and marked by regular setbacks. For others they have managed to greater or lesser extents to overcome these experiences sufficiently to build successful futures. Tragically however some have not survived….

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