Paul Stewart played for the England international team and some of English football’s leading clubs, notably Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool.
It’s a career to be proud of, but the horrific daily cruelty often consumes Stewart’s memories. He says he suffered between the ages of 11 and 15 as a youth footballer.
Stewart is one of the hundreds of footballers dealing with the consequences of childhood sexual abuse that occurred within the game as they strived to become professional players.
This week, Stewart says he’d hoped to find solace in the independent review from prominent lawyer Clive Sheldon, commissioned by the Football Association (FA), into the scandal.
Instead, he says survivors of this sexual abuse have suffered “another kick in the teeth” following the release of a report detailing the “significant institutional failings” from English football’s authorities.
Stewart told CNN that the findings had left victims angry and disappointed when they had sought closure and vindication after decades of life impacted by the painful memories of abuse.
“The FA commissioned this. It was paid for by the FA, and we’re going to be disappointed, aren’t we?” Stewart told CNN Sport’s, Don Riddell. “They’re not going to completely hold their hands up and be liable for what happened.”
In the review by Sheldon, which the FA commissioned in 2016 after several former footballers came forward to discuss their experiences of sexual abuse in the game, it was noted that the FA showed “significant institutional failings” in delaying the introduction of “appropriate and sufficient child protection measures” between October 1995 and May 2000.
The report also noted that “there is no evidence that the FA knew that there was a serious or systemic problem of child sexual abuse within the game in England and no evidence that the FA ought to have known there was such a problem” before the summer of 1995.