Sexual Abuse in Sport: The rights – and options – of victims

Sexual Abuse in Sport: The rights – and options – of victims

The publicity surrounding the abuse of young footballers that unfolded late last year has led to an upsurge in the number of victims coming forward. By December 2016 reports were suggesting more than 55 football clubs had been named in complaints to police.

Many observers suggest that because of the perceived macho culture of football itself, many people are reluctant to come forward. The present level of complaints may well be the tip of a very large iceberg.

Of course football is not the only sport where an unprecedented level of abuse allegations have been made. Similar claims have arisen in numerous sports, including athletics, gymnastics and swimming.


Victims who do decide to come forward about their experience will usually play a part in any criminal case against their abusers. For many, a guilty verdict against that individual is a significant point in their journey. And for some it is enough.

But many others also seek justice in the civil courts. This involves bringing a claim for monetary compensation for what has happened. And it is here that Winston Brown & Co can help. Although a settlement in the civil courts won’t fix the wrong that has been done, it provides a pathway for victims to rebuild their lives.


In our experience people who come to see us about these sensitive matters face many difficult issues. Our job is to provide advice and support that is as effective and practical as possible. Concerns we confront include:

  • The fear that you may not be believed – People who have been abused have an understandable scepticism toward authorities. Often their claims have been ignored in the past. In the current climate there is a willingness to take claims of this nature seriously. We will do all we can to reassure you as we prepare your case.
  • Invasion of privacy – You should remember that complainants have a legal right to anonymity throughout the legal process and beyond. Our job is to protect this right.
  • Unwillingness to go to court – We are able to settle many claims for compensation before they get anywhere near court. If a hearing is necessary there are mechanisms in place to reduce the impact of your appearance, including the use of video links.
  • The impact the passage of time will have on proving your case – There are time limits for bringing claims like this.  But because of the unique nature of claims of sexual abuse it is common for cases to be taken successfully many years after the abuse occurred. For example, we may be able to argue that the usual time limits should be extended by showing you were not aware of the effect of what had been done to you until later in life.
  • Legal costs – Please come and talk to us for a full explanation of how we manage costs in these cases.
  • Confusion over who to claim against – As well as the individual abuser you may be able to claim against all those people and institutions that had a duty of care toward you. This may include employers, social services and relevant sports governing bodies. There is also a government-backed criminal injuries compensation scheme available. 


As an established firm of solicitors we:

  • Have the expertise to liaise with police and the CPS to obtain all relevant evidence in your case to back up your claim
  • Know where to find the most appropriate expert medical and psychological reports for you
  • Use our knowledge of the law to identify flaws in safety procedures and reporting structures that may have existed at clubs or institutions where abuse occurred

We can also put you in touch with one of the many specialist support services that provide ongoing counseling and advice.

You can contact us in strict confidence by calling 020 8858 5996 or if you prefer, by completing our online form.

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