Niall Quinn said he is “shocked and horrified” by the growing revelations of child sex abuse in football and hopes the bravery of ex-players — including two of his former team-mates — in going public about their harrowing experiences won’t be in vain.
Among the victims who came forward are two former England players with whom Quinn played during his club career in the 1990s.
“Paul Stewart at Sunderland and David White at Man City, two great guys, I played with for long periods,” said Quinn. “I feel for them and what they must have gone through over the years.”
Following allegations made by four other players, White said while playing for a junior club in Manchester, he too was abused by Barry Bennell, the former Crewe Alexandra youth team coach and convicted paedophile.
Paul Stewart, who played for Spurs, Liverpool, and Manchester City, as well as Sunderland, said he was sexually abused by another coach.
Irish football legend Quinn said back when he was sharing a dressing room with his team-mates, “not in a million years” would he have imagined they had undergone such painful ordeals in their youth.
“Which was the reality of the situation in those days,” he said, “but we owe it now to those guys and countless others to do everything we can to ensure it can’t happen again. Their bravery now in coming out — that can’t be wasted. It’s up to every association now linked with football, be it the FA, be it the Football League, be it the Premier League — and the FAI, because it may well have happened too in Ireland and there may be people suffering — that we find a way of investigating this with such depth and diligence that it’s eradicated for good and that preventative measures are put in place that really rubberstamp for parents that their children are safe every time they go to play football.”
He continued: “The investigation into what has taken place really has to be worthwhile, not a whitewash. It appears there may have been opportunities to do something like this in the past — that’s a great shame on the part of the game that that didn’t happen. We’ll find out more in due course but, at this point, to the players who’ve come out — and the ones who haven’t yet — all I can say to them is it’s a shocking thing and you should never have had to go through it. But if the game can put itself right in your honour — for the suffering you went through and your bravery in putting it out there — then it won’t have been in vain. That’s the only answer the game can give that works. I hope the guys get some kind of release in knowing their courage can prevent it happening elsewhere.”
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