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Who we are

In November 2016, British football was rocked by a series of high-profile revelations regarding child sexual abuse. Several former professional players bravely waived their right to anonymity to speak out about their past abuse.

A number of those involved, decided to set up the Offside Trust, an organisation committed to supporting survivors and working to make sport safer for children.

Former professional footballer Steve Walters is director of the Offside Trust.

We are proud to work with and support fellow survivors. In addition to Steve, the Offside Trust family includes the amazing ambassadors listed below and several others who wish to remain anonymous:

- Gary Cliffe, former youth team player at Manchester City

- Dion Raitt, former youth team player at Peterborough United

- Alan Arber, former Norwich City player

- Callum Hancock, Professional boxer

- Billy Seymour, former Coventry and Millwall player. (Sadly passed away in 2019. RIP Billy.)

Our aims are:

  • To raise awareness of the importance of safeguarding across all sports at all levels
  • To provide survivors with advice guidance and resources to aid the healing journey
  • To campaign for legal and regulatory changes to improve safeguarding in sport

Our objectives are:

  • To secure partnerships with clubs at all levels, in all sports
  • To engage with survivors and signpost them to the appropriate professional support
  • To engage with survivors within the Offside Trust Support Network
  • To support charitable helplines with specific focus on survivors in sport
  • To change the law on child sexual abuse being exempt from ‘Double Jeopardy’
  • To lobby for ‘Mandatory Reporting’ to be adopted in UK law
  • To engage with political and judicial bodies to strengthen legal support for survivors

Since 2016, the Offside Trust has received the support of supporters, clubs, players and former professionals throughout the sporting world.

We focus on all sports, not just football. We are grateful for the support that we are getting from everyone including the people in cricket, rugby, golf and boxing, helping to raise further awareness across sport.

The Offside Trust works alongside governing bodies, charities and organisations that deal with safeguarding.

Examples of Past and Future Work

Successes to date have included:

  • Supported and spoken confidentially to over 100 survivors of abuse, many of whom never disclosed their abuse to anyone previously;
  • Put safeguarding at the top of the agenda of every sport nationally and internationally;
  • Identified inadequacies that exist on numerous levels and are working with relevant organisations to build suitable solutions;
  • Organised various support events for survivors, including our “Offside Trust weekends” hosted by Crystal Palace, Everton, Portsmouth, Bristol City and Wolves;
  • Tackled the stigma of surviving abuse by speaking extensively in the national media, including The Guardian, talkSPORT, BBC's Victoria Derbyshire Show, ITV News;
  • Supported survivors alongside the police where required;
  • Listened and organised approved counselling where chosen;
  • Our work has led to enhanced investigations with Operation Hydrant, relevant organisations and better record keeping moving forward;
  • Engaged with international discussion on ending the stigma around abuse, through Accento Robinson in Spain and Nieuwsuur in Holland;
  • Met with leading Premier League and Championship clubs to discuss and share best safeguarding practice;
  • Called on sporting bodies to hold full and independent enquiries into past abuse;
  • Engaged with parliamentarians on a local and national level;
  • Attended and spoke at awareness-raising events for grassroots sporting entities;
  • Met with governing bodies to develop plans to eradicate abuse in sport.
  • Grown our presence on social media with more than 18,000 followers.

In the coming months, our work will include:

  • Continuing support to survivors with confidential listening and referral service;
  • Working alongside organisations and partners to end abuse and achieve the healing survivors deserve;
  • Identifying improvements in reporting, safeguarding and information sharing;
  • Hosting further, regular support events for survivors to share their healing journey through peer-to-peer engagement;
  • Improving cross-sport checks, reporting and information sharing
  • Ensuring all enquiries into non-recent abuse are able to properly identify past failures and learn from mistakes;
  • Developing and distributing guidance to key stakeholders regarding preventing abuse, and working sensitively with survivors of abuse;
  • Assisting to develop a better culture around sport where children are safe and protected, changing the conversation around abuse in sport;
  • Ensuring a survivor centred approach is adhered to at all levels of the survivor journey no matter what route is taken;
  • Developing support resources for family, loved ones and supporters of survivors;
  • Developing a pressure group to be the independent body to ensure progress is made;
  • Fully engaging professional clubs and players to use their resources and platform to keep all children in sport safe.

The huge uptake of all our services proves that there is a real need for the Offside Trust.

We do acknowledge that clubs and organisations have made vast improvements in safeguarding. We are keen to ensure these high standards are used as examples for the lower league and grassroots clubs to allow them to integrate these easily.