Barnardo and Chelsea to Investigate Racist Coaches

The biggest children’s charity in Britain, Bernardo’s, has been brought in by the Chelsea Football Club to supervise an independent investig...

The biggest children’s charity in Britain, Bernardo’s, has been brought in by the Chelsea Football Club to supervise an independent investigation into claims of racism that have left the club looking at the real possibility of extensive legal action. 

Chelsea commissioned the enquiry after the club started receiving legal claims, initially from three previous youth-team players from the 1990s, which alleged that Graham Rix and Gwyn Williams subjected young black players to exhaustive racial abuse. A fourth player has now made a separate claim about this alleged culture or bullying and abuse continuing to the present day.

A Football Career Abandoned

The fourth claimant, who was a part of the Chelsea youth set-up from 1979 through to 1985, has stated that the abuse left him with so much ongoing trauma that he ended up abandoning a football career, despite the fact that he had signed professional forms at Stamford Bridge. The statement says that he is still unable to watch the current team playing or take part in things like online betting on their matches because of how bad his flashbacks are.

The List of Claimants Keeps Lengthening

Three more players who were active in the 1980s have now taken on lawyers in order to begin their own litigation processes, and the plaintiffs have received public support from two white players who were also in the youth set-up for Chelsea.

Lunn and Baker Come Forward

Grant Lunn and Gary Baker made the decision to come forward after they read the statement which Williams released in March denying any and all of the allegations. Rix, who was the youth-team coach for Chelsea in the 1990s has also persistently denied all of the accusations.

Barnardo’s has sent a letter to the pertinent players to let them know that an independent inquiry will be conducted, and also to supply contact details for the Sporting Chance Clinic for professional counselling, if this was required.

The letter from Barnardo stated that their task was to gather data about the complaints which have been made known to Chelsea, in order to investigate the football club’s handling of the matters. It would also compare the environment in which the alleged incidents took place against the one which is in place today in order to make proper recommendations for the future as to how the club could support victims.

Experienced Investigators to Take Charge

Julie Dugdale, the Head of Business at Barnardo Training and Consultancy, and Rod Weston-Bartholomew, the Assistant Director of Children’s Services at the charity, will be leading the investigation. Dugdale has been involved in numerous safeguarding reviews, and Weston-Bartholomew, who formerly worked at the Children’s Workforce Development Council, is a chief figure in the diversity and equality policy in place at Barnardo’s.

Chelsea has released a statement saying that they were taking the allegations very seriously, and that they would ensure that they were investigated properly. The statement went on to say that they were determined to do the right thing by assisting the authorities with the investigations being carried out, and restating that they would offer full support to players who had been affected, including making counselling available to those who may require it.

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