Ian Maxwell must publicly clarify his comments surrounding abuse in Scottish football

Ian Maxwell must publicly clarify his comments surrounding abuse in Scottish football

By Niall Murray

Donald Trump recently took the ridiculousness of his Presidency to new heights. OK, that’s rather vague given that we could be referring to a whole host of Trump-related incidents. In this instance, we’re talking about Trump accidentally saying “would” instead of “wouldn’t” when speaking in a televised press conference with Vladimir Putin about Russian involvement in US elections. A brazen and laughable tactic, Trump has seemingly taken having a brass neck to a new level. That said, SFA chief Ian Maxwell could do a lot worse than pulling off a similar stunt in the near future.


In the former Partick Thistle managing director’s case, he might want to change “I don’t believe so” to “I believe so” when asked if the Scottish FA “failed the children of Scotland.” Let’s hope he did misspeak because there’s absolutely no justification for that comment. It’s the kind of question that really only has one answer, given the damning evidence that shows at least hundreds of young people have been abused in Scottish football.


The fact there was a review commisioned by the SFA in the first place suggests there was at least the worry of them failing to keep children safe. The initial findings of this report only confirm the gross failures that took place. They found that child protection services “are not fit for purpose.” It also said that these will need to change in order to prevent future cases of abuse. Moreover, as of November, there are 298 criminal cases that have been recorded with Police Scotland linked to sexual abuse in Scottish football.


How then can Maxwell say Scottish football is a “safe place for children”? At best, he could say that it’s become “safer” for young people given that he says “significant strides” have been made in the past 18 months. Conversely, calling it safe is just plain insulting to those who suffered abuse. The report also found gaps in the system as well as a shortfall in money and resources to tackle the issue. Similarly, the review concluded that clubs had to accept greater responsibility for affiliated youth clubs and the requirement of a designated Scottish FA board member for safeguarding these issues.


If Maxwell simply misspoke, then all he has to do is publicly clarify his comments. He was criticised on Twitter by Pete Haynes, an abuse victim who waived his anonymity, who branded his comments “offensive, poorly judged and insulting.” Since then he’s also called for Maxwell to resign. According to the BBC’s Chris McLaughlin the SFA chief has already been in touch with victims to clarify his comments. Why not go the whole hog and do it publicly?



The issue here is that there are numerous victims who still haven’t come forward. Comments like these have the potential to discourage others to share their experience and get justice. Former children’s charity executive Mark Henry led the independent inquiry.


“We in the review believe that the vast majority of people who have been affected by this issue in the past have still not come forward,” he said.


“Why do I say that?


“Well, because a lot of the people who did come forward talked about their pals, talked about people that they knew who they believed had been affected by this issue but had never spoken or come forward about it.”


We witnessed something similar in Hollywood with the #MeToo campaign; where victims of sexual abuse were silenced for decades creating a culture which appeared to side with the abuser for fear of rocking the boat.


There’s a strong chance Maxwell just misspoke and given he’s clarified his comments to victims suggests as much. However, it’s just as important he lets the public, and anyone else who may have been abused, know that the SFA were in the wrong. In essence, perhaps he should take a leaf out of Donald Trump’s book.

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