New Premier League season begins … but child abuse scandal hangs heavy over football

In The Conversation, Jayne Caudwell working with colleagues at the University of Waikato (NZ), Brunel and Leeds Beckett Universities return to the on-going national inquiry into historical sexual abuse in football.

Much of the shock at the abuse allegations and convictions comes from the fact that the victims are men. Stereotypically, child sexual abuse in sport has been seen as being about male perpetrators and female victims. But the recent cases have shattered this myth, revealing that boys and men experience sexual abuse, too.

Undoubtedly, this stereotype acted as an obstacle for men to speak out about sexual abuse, because of the misconception that “real” sports boys and sportsmen are not “victims” of sex crimes.

This is hardly surprising, since the early 1990s, feminist research has exposed the often damaging connections between masculinity and sport. Football locker rooms and clubs are traditionally very masculine and male environments, and evidence has shown that expectations of how male sports stars should and should not behave can demean, devalue and devastate the lives of individual athletes.