Police to investigate historic sex abuse in youth football in Greater Manchester

Greater Manchester Police announce that an investigation has been launched into historic child sex abuse in the area's youth football system.

Greater Manchester Police have announced that an investigation has been launched into allegations of historic child sex abuse in the area's youth football system.

The force is the fifth in the country to look into allegations after 20 players came forward claiming that they suffered abuse as children.

Former Crewe Alexandra player Andy Woodward was the first to publicly claim that he was a victim of such crimes, alleging that ex-coach Barry Bennell abused him.

Bennell, who has been convicted on three separate occasions of abusing young boys, has also been named by Steve Walters and David White as their alleged abuser.

The public revelations have encouraged others to come forward, and now the authorities are investigating the claims.

Assistant Chief Constable Debbie Ford said in a statement: "Following recent media coverage, Greater Manchester Police has received a number of calls from people reporting historic sexual abuse whilst they were in the youth football system. We have now launched an investigation and our specially trained officers are supporting those who have come forward so far.

"We are co-ordinating our investigation with forces nationally and with Operation Hydrant, the national co-ordination hub for historic child abuse investigations concerning persons of public prominence.

"I would encourage anyone who was a victim of sexual or physical abuse to come forward and speak to us as soon as possible. I completely understand that for many people, making disclosures about such traumatic events can be difficult, but we will offer advice and support throughout."

Meanwhile, Bennell is currently in hospital after being found unconscious by police, who were called to a "fear of welfare incident" at an address in Knebworth Park, Stevenage on Friday.

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