Eric Bristow 59, the former darts world champion has been sacked by Sky Sports following the comments he tweeted about the allegations made by former football players, that they were sexually abused as boys playing in youth teams.
Bristow tweeted that the victims were, “wimps”, “not proper men” and failed to “sort out “ their abuser when they were older. Reference was made to the victims “not being able to look at themselves in the mirror for failing to get their own back on their abuser as adults”.
The posts have drawn huge criticism, including Steve Walters, one of the former players who have spoken out about his abuse. He has stated that Bristow’s remarks are, “disgusting.” Bristow has been a regular contributor to the darts coverage on Sky. Sky has made a statement saying that Bristow, “was a contributor to our darts coverage in the past but we will not be using him in the future.”
Newcastle United has said that they “immediately dropped Bristow from a scheduled appearance at the St James football ground on the 6th December 2016 and will not be working with him in the future.”
The NSPCC has commented that, “Most sexual abuse isn’t reported, detected or prosecuted. Most children don’t tell anyone that they are being sexually abused. It’s about exploiting disparity of power, with the belief that victims wouldn’t dare speak out. A society that leaves survivors of sexual abuse with internalised shame and guilt silences them to.”
This is why Bristow’s comments are so distressing. The courage that the former footballers are showing by speaking out should be commended. The former players should be supported. Many of them have had their lives nearly destroyed by what has happened to them. If Bristow’s comments are left unchallenged the fear is that other victims will be deterred from coming forward.
Many of the former players have said that by telling people what they have suffered, they hope that they will encourage other victims to come forward. They hope to raise public awareness of alleged historical abuse in football. The former players have won praise from politicians, sport administrators and abuse charities.
Twenty former footballers have now made allegations of child sex abuse. Numerous police forces are investigating the allegations and it is thought that the sport could face, “allegations on the scale of the Jimmy Saville scandal.”
Bennell, who has been named as their abuser by many of the former players worked for junior football teams in the North West of England, Midlands, Stoke and Manchester City ,was sentenced to four years for raping a Bristish boy on a football tour of Florida in 1994.He received a nine year sentence for twenty three offences against boys in England in 1998. He was jailed in 2015 for abusing a boy on a football camp in Macclesfield. Yesterday it was reported that Bennell had been taken to hospital after being found unconscious at an address in Stevenage.
Duncan Craig, Chief Executive of the charity, “Survivors Manchester” who Steve Walters is now an ambassador for, has said that Bristow’s comments are “appalling”. “The reason why men don’t speak out is because they feel less of a man, feel judged, feel ashamed. Bristow is perpetuating those myths- that’s way I’m taking such a strong stance.”
We believe that the former players should be supported and praised for having the courage to speak out. It is our view that victims, who come forward with their stories, encourage other victims to break their silence. Many individuals who have suffered abuse believe that they are the only victim. Raising public awareness of abuse gives courage to those who have suffered to come forward and have confidence that they will be listen to and believed.