Slee Blackwell abuse lawyer, Liz Duncan, appeared on ITV national news on Monday 28 November.
Once again, the national media have turned to us when they needed a legal expert to comment on the problem of sex abuse in sport.
Liz Duncan was interviewed on ITV News about the scandal that is rocking the world of professional football.
However, Liz warned that football wasn’t the only sport to be afflicted by this problem. Sex abuse can occur in all sports that involve children. We are dealing with cases involving a range of sports, including swimming and gymnastics.
“The close relationship that exists in sport between coach and athlete is one that abusers can take advantage of. This makes the children involved particularly vulnerable to being groomed for abuse. Abuse often takes place right under the noses of their parents and other responsible adults.
There is a sense that as with the Jimmy Savile scandal the extent of the problem in sport has yet to fully emerge. This could be the tip of a very large and very unpleasant iceberg.
We encourage our children to participate in sport and to reach for the top. But elite athletes are especially vulnerable to abuse. Their dreams of Olympic glory or Premier League riches can fuel ambitions which place them in a potentially dangerous situation. There can be enormous pressures on these young athletes to succeed. The athlete’s family often make far-reaching sacrifices. This puts additional financial and moral burdens on children who don’t want to let them down.
Coaches frequently hold the key to sporting success and athletes are the junior partner in an unequal power relationship. As the athlete/coach relationship progresses athletes can find themselves being taken away from the safety of their home or school and placed in environments they are ill-equipped to deal with. Athletes desperately seek playing time, selection, top level coaching, or funding and will be reluctant to do anything that might rock the boat. They are therefore highly vulnerable and if sexual abuse occurs it can prove very difficult for them to break free from it.”