Football is the world’s most known and exercised sport and being part of the top players in the top leagues is a dream for thousands of boys. In a competitive environment like football, teenagers are sacrificing a lot of their time training in all kind of weather conditions, travelling miles to their games and perfecting their skills.
Though competitions at a young age has already led to many discussions and criticism towards football. Great Britain is now experiencing a new level of shock with the unveiling of the sex scandal.
In order to thrive at a top level, not only in sports but in any career environment, training and support from experienced people is needed. The unveiled exploitation of such power to satisfy ones sexual desire has raised many questions and concerns about the safety of football environment for children.
350 men have come forward now to talk about their cases of sexual abuse and the scandal is far from being fully unveiled. While sexual abuse towards children is not a new issue, the extent to which boys have been victims has now reached a new level of awareness.
With the abuses happening years and years ago it will not be easy to solve each individual case. The reaction of victims has shown that they are now ready to step forward and do something against the coaches that have changed their lives.
The fact that the whistle-blower Andy Woodward has sparked such a development now is not a surprise to experts. According to the head of the psychology department at Middlesex University, Antonia Bifulco, such actions by individuals can trigger interesting mechanisms.
First it shows other victims that they are not alone, it creates a platform where they can come together and release a burden. While it is never easy to do that, especially on public platforms, a sense of community strengthens people in their willingness to tell their story. This theory is supported by Dr. Elaine Hunter, who is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and who says that “the feeling of being a group empowers people to act”.
Some might be surprised that the players have not come forward earlier to talk about their abuse, Dr. Hunter highlights that a combination of things builds a huge barrier for these people. Starting with the imbalance of power that exists between coaches and player, especially at that age, and the dependency of the player on the coaches in order to fulfil their dreams. That combination of imbalance and dependency makes children rather stay quiet about their experience because they are scared that otherwise they might not be able to reach their goal of being a professional football player. This can be seen when these player speak out such as Andy Woodward did on BBC, where he said that it was “that control, that all I wanted to do was be a footballer” and that he created a mind-set where he told himself that he “has to go through it” because otherwise he will not reach his goal.
This is not the only barrier for people when it comes to telling others about what has happened. Fears of reprisal and a sense of shame play a huge role as well. Thinking that others might not believe it or direct threats towards people’s future, creates a surrounding where it seems to be easier to keep it to oneself.
Dr. Hunter points out that the effects of such a decision can be very harmful for individuals though, saying:
“It can result in literally every type of mental health problem. Particularly in terms of relationships but also in terms of drug use, alcohol use, sometimes self-harming behaviour and particularly for boys, a more acting out behaviour such as being aggressive for example”.
This is supported by Professor Bifulco who highlights the importance of treating victims as quickly as possible. He says: “The earlier you can intervene the better you can prevent long term damage to those people.” Again that is a very similar rhetoric to Woodward who spoke of having “depression and suicidal thoughts”.
The difference between abuse towards males and females can not only be seen in the awareness of the issue in both genders, but also in the reaction and consequences. One consequence that is rather experienced by men than women is that sexual abuse leads to them questioning themselves.
Especially at such young ages it would lead to big “confusion” among boys who are sexually abused by other men about who they actually are, according to Dr. Hunter. She says: “it makes someone question his own sexuality, whether he is gay or not and that also adds another barrier to actually speaking out”.
The issue, according to Professor Bifulco, have to be tackled at its core in order to avoid such things to happen in future. This includes creating a society where it is easier for children to step forward and report such things as soon as they happen.
Through this the children affected can be treated at an early stage making it easier for them to live their life without further serious mental health problems. In addition it will help to catch child sex abusers before more children are turning into victims. After all children should be able to live their dream without fearing that it will turn into a lifelong nightmare.
The game of the Weekend, the table leader Chelsea is travelling to the Etihad Stadium to face Manchester City
Only 1 point is separating the teams (Chelsea 31, Manchester City 30)
Chelsea’s current form is promising as they won their last 7 Premier League matches including an impressive 4-0 victory over Manchester United and a 2-1 victory against Tottenham just last week
But, City has been performing well at home so far this season, not losing a single match at the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League
Last season Chelsea were struggling when they faced City, losing at home and away 0-3 both times
And it gets worse when looking further back… The west London club has lost 6 of their last 8 games, in both Premier League and Cup, when travelling to Manchester City
Chelsea’s advantage against the other top club from the Premier League is the fact that they can fully focus on the League. Not competing in any International Cup this year means they have time to rest during the week while Manchester City has to compete in a strong Champions League group against Barcelona, Monchengladbach and Celtic Glasgow
Both teams have been strong in their attacks this season with Aguero and Diego Costa to watch out for
Aguero has scored 10 goals in 11 matches for the skyblues so far this season, while Costa helped his side with 10 goals and 4 assists in 13 appearances
Crystal Palace VS Southampton
Sat, 15:00 pm
Selhurst Park, London
Crystal Palace and their coach, Alan Pardew, are under pressure
Their current form is far from good, losing their last 6 Premier League matches and only winning 1 of their last 8
A dramatic finish last weekend left them losing 4-5 to Swansea conceding two goals in stoppage time and resulted in the South London club to drop to 17th, just ahead of the relegation zone on goal difference
The game is understood to be the last chance for Pardew
Their opponent Southampton are experiencing another solid season, placed 10th in the table and far from any relegation danger
The 2-0 victory over Arsenal in the League Cup on Wednesday along with the 1-0 home win last week versus Everton will give Puel’s squad another boost in confidence
The teams met already this season in the League Cup where Southampton won 2-0 at home
Stoke City VS Burnley
Sat, 15:00 pm
Bet365 Stadium, Stoke
The teams are close in the table at the moment with Stoke positioned on 11th and Burnley just two places beneath that on 13th
The latest form has been quite different though
Stoke has managed to get 15 points out of their last eight Premier League matches including four wins, three draws and only one loss – only three clubs have gained more points over that time
Burnley is especially struggling at away matches this season, not managing to get a single win so far and losing four of their five away games
One issue for them is that they have problems scoring away from home, managing to only celebrate one goal in five matches
Burnley’s recent history against Stoke is not very promising as well, only managing to win one of the last seven clashes between them
Sunderland VS Leicester City
Sat, 15:00 pm
Stadium of Light, Sunderland
Sunderland are at the bottom of the League and have to gain points in order to not lose touch with the safe spots
It took Sunderland eleven matches to win their first game but two wins in a row against Bournemouth and Hull and a good performance versus Liverpool last week raised their hopes to turn things around
Sunderland have been struggling when facing Leicester in the last couple of years not managing to win since Leicester promoted back to the Premier League in 2014 and losing both clashes last season
Compared to their title season last year though, Leicester is far from being involved in the tile race this time – positioned 14th they are currently only two points clear of the relegation zone
Their recent performances gained them no win in the last four games and only once in the last eight they managed to take all the three points
Some key player from Leicester are displaying that low with their game statistics so far – the most obvious ones being Vardy and Mahrez
Vardy has only managed to score two goals in 13 matches, assisting another two and Mahrez currently stands at three goals and one assist in 13 matches as well
Tottenham Hotspur VS Swansea
Sat, 15:00 pm
White Hart Lane, London
Swansea are experiencing a rough season being 19th and having sacked one manager already – At the beginning of October Francesco Guidolin had to leave to make way for Bob Bradley
Last week’s last minute win over Crystal Palace was only their second win of the season but one that raised hopes among the Swans that they will manage to work their way up the table
Tottenham on the other hand had to suffer their first loss of the Premier League season last week against current table leader Chelsea
The North London club has to watch out though that they do not lose touch with the Champions League spots, being 5th currently they are already four points behind the 4th place which is currently held by their rival Arsenal London
The big problem for Tottenham so far is that they draw too often, winning six games they drew the same amount of games
The recent history of matches between the two clubs is not looking too bright for the Welsh side – since promotion to the Premier League in 2011 they have not managed to win once when they faced Spurs in the League, losing every time they travelled to the White Hart Lane
West Bromwich Albion VS Watford
Sat, 15:00 pm
The Hawthorns, West Bromwich
West Bromwich Albion have played a strong November staying undefeated after two victories to Leicester City and Burnley and a draw against Hull City
A key figure in these games was Matt Phillips who scored twice and assisted another three goals in the last three matches, Watford will therefore have to keep a special eye on him
In addition to that corners will play a key role in the clash. While West Bromwich is the strongest team in the Premier League after corners, scoring six already, Watford is along with Crystal Palace the team that conceded the most goals after a corner so far, seven in total
Watford themselves are hoping that their record signing from last summer, Saido Berahino, will return to the pitch after being ruled out since mid October – the decision will be made after the final training session
Last year marked the first ever matches between the two teams in the Premier League and Watford was able to secure one win and one draw
West Ham United VS Arsenal London
Sat, 17:30 pm
London Stadium, London
The move from the historic Boleyn Ground to the new Olympic Stadium has proved difficult for West Ham – managing to only get one win out of the last five matches, West Ham is currently at 16th, only two places above relegation zone
Arsenal is fully involved in the title race but has had a tough time in November as well only winning two out of six matches in League and Cup
Historically though the North London side has had the upper hand in most clashes in recent years, losing only one League match to West Ham since 2007
Both teams are struggling with some injuries at the moment – Arsenal announced that midfielder Santi Cazorla has to undergo ankle surgery and will be approximately out until March. Bellerin is still injured and Debuchy’s injury just 15 minutes into his comeback last week creates a difficult situation for the position of the right wingback
West Ham are going to be without Sakho but might see Carroll returning in the position of striker and Cresswell and Antonio on the wingbacks
AFC Bournemouth VS Liverpool
Sun, 13:30 pm
Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth
Liverpool are fiercely fighting for the title this season and Klopp’s team have had some very strong appearances this season – especially away they had some impressive matches including a 4-3 win at the Emirates on the season opener, a draw at White Hart Lane and a 2-1 victory over Chelsea
But, they have also suffered their only defeat of this season at an away game, losing 0-2 to Burnley on the second Match day
The form of the two club over the last five matches could not be more different – while Liverpool won four of their last five matches in the league, Bournemouth only managed to win once
Coutinho’s injury will rule him out until January and Danny Ings, who had just come back from a knee injury, will be out again until the end of the season narrowing Klopp’s options in the attack
Last season Liverpool managed to succeed twice in that clash in the League
Everton VS Manchester United
Sun, 16:00 pm
Goodison Park, Liverpool
Everton had a very strong start to the season winning four of their first five League matches and only suffering their first loss on Match day six. Lately though, Everton dropped constantly winning only one of their last six Premier League matches resulting in a current seventh place
Goodison Park has been a good venue for Everton as they have not lost a single home match so far this season
Both teams need three points in order to stay close to the International places but the pressure is on Manchester, who are already eight points behind the fourths place which is the minimum for a Champions League spot
The Red Devils will have to travel without their Captain, Rooney, who is out on suspension
Last season Manchester United won twice against Everton but quality on both sides seem to be equally strong at the moment meaning that a fierce fight for three points is to be expected
Middlesbrough VS Hull City
Mon, 20:00 pm
Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough
Both teams are currently positioned close to the bottom of the League table with Hull on 18 and Middlesbrough on 15 just one point ahead
Hull City started the year promising with two wins but ever since only won one more dropping into the relegation zone
Hull struggled a couple of times at away games so far losing 1-4 in London to Arsenal, a 1-5 in Liverpool and a 1-6 at Bournemouth
Middlesbrough, on the other side, suffered from a late equaliser in Leicester last week which snatched the three points away from them
Overall Middlesbrough did not manage to win in front of their home crowd often, securing only one win so far