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Player unions in England and the Netherlands have created protocols on how to support players reporting sexual abuse.

The English PFA, in collaboration with the national football association (FA), has set up a network including 130 counsellors, psychotherapists and psychiatrists (experienced of working with adult sexual abuse victims), and a 24-hour telephone helpline.

Dutch union VVCS has identified the most relevant local support structures and instructed staff to involve these organizations as quickly as possible.

Both organizations responded with these measures after numerous former players reported sexual abuse in England, followed by several Dutch players.

“Player unions need to take every suspicion or accusation of sexual abuse very seriously,” said FIFPro Lawyer Wil van Megen. “We have to be extremely careful with the victims’ interest.”

“I advise our member unions to prepare themselves as the PFA and VVCS have done.”

The PFA started receiving calls from members in November last year alleging incidents of sexual abuse within both junior and professional football.

The PFA and FA quickly commissioned a specialist service to give 12 months of therapy for anyone abused in football and entrusted daily operation of this service to Sporting Chance, a charity founded by former England captain Tony Adams

“Take up of this service has slowed after an initial spike, but we are still managing between five and ten new referrals a month,” said Michael Bennett, PFA’s Head of Player Welfare.

National player unions who want to seek or share advice with FIFPro please contact Wil van Megen.

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