The Duke of Cambridge, who is the president of the Football Association (FA), has met with adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse at the Sporting Chance charity in Liphook, set up by former England football captain Tony Adams. The charity is specifically set up for those affected by non-recent sexual abuse in football.
The Duke of Cambridge said: “We have been very good at tackling things like racism and such in football and the fact that we are now seen to be leading the way in football, and mental health is fantastic.
“I’ve always felt those young men get put into the situation where they have amazing feet, their skill with the ball is unquestionable, but everyone forgets about the rest of the body, they forget about the head, they forget about how they have been brought up, about what they have been through.”
The Duke of Cambridge said that too little had been done to prevent tragedies such as the suicide of former Wales manager Gary Speed and problems suffered by stars such as Aaron Lennon. The “mental well-being” of under pressure players and managers should be protected more.
Reports of non-recent childhood sexual abuse became public last year, and the FA approached Sporting Chance to set up a special support service. Tony Adams said: “It’s great that he [Prince William] is showing an interest in what we do and it’s fantastic that we can cement the partnership we’ve got with the FA.”
Ian Ackley, a survivor of abuse he suffered as a child, described The Duke of Cambridge’s visit as “hugely significant”.
He said: “I’ve been wanting to speak to anyone and everyone for a long time and in the last eight-nine months we’ve come a long way.
“To be able to sit and have an audience with the Duke is just something I couldn’t ever have imagined.”