Any form of abuse in football is unacceptable and must not be tolerated. Historically, there have been instances where players, officials and other people working across football have been severely mistreated and left without acknowledgment or support. This is often termed non-recent abuse. 

The PFA and the PFA Charity have always sought to offer support to current and former professional players for a range of issues, including non-recent abuse. Earlier this year, we committed to creating dedicated support predominantly for survivors of non recent child sexual abuse in football to ensure they could access the help they need. Co-funded by The PFA and The FA, the role was openly advertised and since November 2019, a PFA Survivor Support Advocate, has been seeking to do just that.

The role is fulfilled by Ian Ackley, who is a survivor, with lived experience of abuse in football.

What kind of support is available?

The support includes:

• Legal information
• Emotional support
• Practical support

Legal information

The survivor support advocate provides survivors with information when they are seeking to start a civil claim. The service provides information regarding legal processes, helping survivors understand what to expect, and signposts credible sources of legal representation – including identifying those firms who have a specialist knowledge of child sexual abuse.

Emotional support

The support provides signposting to therapy/counselling and can be a pathway into therapy for some individuals.

The service also provides listening and emotional support from an individual with detailed knowledge of the criminal justice and civil systems. - The service provides a caring trauma informed approach to the needs of individual survivors.

Practical support

The service provides signposting to advice for debt, housing and/or benefits. This might include assistance and support in completing applications or attending meetings regarding benefits and or grant applications.
Practical hands on support might also include assistance and support in completing and applying for either the FA or PFA Benevolent funds for adult survivors.

Who can access the support?

Whilst the PFA must always prioritise its members, by collaborating with The FA we have ensured the support is also available to survivors of non-recent abuse in the grassroots game too.

Is this service private?

All information you share with the PFA and PFA Charity is entirely confidential, unless you are at immediate risk of harm, or highlight a potential safeguarding issue where children or vulnerable adults may be at risk.

What should I do if I have safeguarding concerns?

If you suspect there is a serious safeguarding risk in football, we urge you to report your concerns to the police, social services or NSPCC immediately. You should also report this to The FA via The FAs regulatory duties mean that it is the only governing body in football who can act to mitigate risk across the game, interventions include suspensions from football. You can also choose to report any concerns to the PFA.

How can I access the support?

To access this support, you must have reported your abuse to an official organisation, such as the police, the NSPCC, The FA or the PFA. If you are yet to report your abuse, the Advocate can assist you with the reporting process. 

We recognise that coming forward is a significant step but accessing support via this advocacy role may help to reduce some of the impact of the ongoing trauma from the abuse and help people on their journey to getting some closure, where they might not have previously have felt they could have done.

If you feel that the Advocacy role can support you, then please get in touch.

Other important contact details:

  • NSPCC Football Helpline - 0800 023 2642 - Available Mon to Fri 8am to 10pm, Sat and Sun 9am to 6pm or please contact the general 24-hour helpline on 0808 800 5000
  • The FA Safeguarding Team -