An independent report into the child sexual abuse allegations within football concluded that the English FA did not do enough to keep children safe between 1995 and 2000.
Clive Sheldon QC, who was appointed by the FA in 2016 to independently review allegations of sexual abuse by coaches and scouts, published the 707-page report on Wednesday, detailing the findings.
As part of the investigation, six-two survivors of the abuse and a further 157 individuals gave evidence as it looked deeper into how the FA, clubs and individuals handled the reports of abuse at the time.
The reports conclusion stated that while "there is no evidence the FA knew that there was a serious or systemic problem of child sexual abuse within the game in England" prior to 1995, the governing body "did not do enough to keep children safe" between 1995 and 2000.
"The FA acted far too slowly to introduce appropriate and sufficient child protection measures, and to ensure that safeguarding was taken sufficiently seriously by those involved in the game," the report continued. "These are significant institutional failings for which there is no excuse."
Historical failures were identified at clubs including Crewe Alexandra, Manchester City, Chelsea, Aston Villa, Newcastle, Stoke, Peterborough, and Southampton
Additionally, the report highlighted examples of clubs failing to act on rumours or complaints of abuse within their organisations. The review received data from Operation Hydrant in August 2020, which identified 240 suspects and 692 survivors.
13 recommendations have been made to the FA to improve safeguarding for the future, which include a board member becoming a safeguarding champion, an annual review of safeguarding spot-checks that grassroots clubs can carry out, employment of safeguarding officers at all 92 professional clubs (full-time in the Premier League and Championship and part-time in League One and League Two) and a National Day of Safeguarding In Football.
"I very much hope that this report will be read carefully by all persons involved in administering the game of football today, including The FA and the clubs who were associated with perpetrators of abuse," Clive Sheldon added.
"Understanding and acknowledging the appalling abuse suffered by young players in the period covered by the review is important for its own sake. Survivors deserve to be listened to, and their suffering deserves to be properly recognised.
"As well as recognising and facing up to what happened in the past, it is also important that this terrible history is not repeated, and that everything possible is done now to safeguard the current and future generations of young players.
"I hope that this report will make some contribution towards that."
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee chair Julian Knight said: "The failure of the FA to keep children safe is truly shocking.
"There can be no excuses for the critical delays to act or provide guidance to those working on child protection. We could be looking at the biggest safeguarding scandal in football's history.
"I am shocked by the scale of the abuse that has been identified and the acknowledgement that though it's not possible to know the precise number of incidents as most are not reported, it was clear there was a considerable amount of abuse.
"The FA has grave questions to answer about its past record and needs to reassure parents about what it's doing now to ensure that children are being kept safe from predators."
Author: Jake Wilkin