Photo credit: Dave Thompson/AP

Britain’s National Police Chiefs’ Council has released an update on the widespread investigation into sexual abuse in British soccer and the numbers are staggering. According to the NPCC, there are:

  • 1016 referrals directly to police or to the NPCC helpline
  • 526 potential victims
  • 184 potential suspects
  • 248 soccer clubs—spanning all levels—that have been referenced

The investigation has fallen under the aegis of Operation Hydrant, which was established by the NPCC in 2014 to coordinate “non-recent child abuse investigations concerning persons of public prominence,” and to “avoid duplication of investigation, and ensure information and intelligence is shared across forces.

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The inquiry into child sexual abuse in soccer began in November, when former Crewe Alexandria player Andy Woodward told The Guardian about being abused as a youth player by coach Barry Bennell, who was twice convicted of sexual abuse. Following Woodward’s lead, a number of other former players came forward with their own stories of being abused as youth players.

According to the NPCC, the “age range for potential victims at the time of the abuse” goes from four-years-old to 20, and 97 percent of the potential victims are male. The NPCC has also received 22 referrals to sports outside of soccer.


In the U.S., the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) is dedicated to the prevention of child abuse. The hotline offers crisis intervention, information, literature, and referrals to thousands of emergency, social service, and support resources. All calls are confidential.