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Police open inquiry into historical child sex abuse at London clubs

British police said they had launched an investigation into allegations of historical child sex crimes at London soccer clubs.

Update:
Former footballer Andy Woodward consoles Steve Walters at the launch of The Offside Trust, an independent group set up to support players and their families who have suffered abuse
PHIL NOBLEREUTERS

British police said they had launched an investigation into allegations of historical child sex crimes at London soccer clubs following a wave of reports from former players that they had been abused as youngsters.

Last week, police said about 350 victims had come forward to report sexual abuse within soccer clubs across the country from the 1970s onwards and indicated the number was likely to rise.

Emerging trend of sexual abuse

The revelations of the attacks suffered by former professionals have raised fears that sexual predators had for years been using their roles at clubs to prey on young players.

"We take all the allegations we receive very seriously and they will be dealt with sensitively," Det. Chief Supt Ivan Balhatchet from London police said in a statement.

"Anyone who has been a victim of sexual abuse, whatever the circumstances, or has any relevant information should contact their local police or the NSPCC (charity)."

Unnamed London clubs involved

The investigation will look at allegations involving London clubs although the police declined to say which ones.

On Saturday, Chelsea issued a public apology to former striker Gary Johnson for the sexual abuse he suffered as a young player and said it had been wrong to insist on a confidentiality clause when paying him compensation.

Johnson, 57, had revealed the day before that he had been abused by former Chelsea chief scout Eddie Heath in the 1970s, receiving 50,000 pounds ($63,265) from the club in settlement in 2015.

Gary Johnson was paid to keep quiet about sexual abuse by Chelsea.
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Gary Johnson was paid to keep quiet about sexual abuse by Chelsea.
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