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PSNI begins inquiry into child sex abuse claims at north's football clubs

The PSNI has confirmed it is investigating allegations of historical child sex abuse at football clubs

POLICE are investigating claims of historical child sex abuse at several football clubs in Northern Ireland.

The PSNI confirmed that it had received a "very small number of allegations of non-recent child sexual abuse linked to football clubs".

The identity of the clubs at the centre of the investigation has not been revealed.

DUP East Derry MP Gregory Campbell said: "Sports clubs, including the many football clubs in Northern Ireland are run largely by volunteers who give of their time freely and provide a very valuable service to the community.

"It is important that allegations made relating to Northern Ireland are properly and fully investigated so that perpetrators are brought to justice. It is obviously important that clubs have proper processes in place to ensure they are safe places for our young people."

The Irish Football Association said it would be too early to comment on any detail but that the organisation would "work fully" with police and relevant authorities in any investigations into the allegations.

A spokeswoman said: "The association would encourage anyone involved in football that has suffered abuse to call the NSPCC football hotline on 0800 023 2642."

It comes as 20 other police forces across the UK announced probes into sex abuse allegations at football clubs.

More than 350 people have alleged they were victims of abuse in football, including more than 20 former players who have waived their right to anonymity to speak out about the abuse.

A hotline set up by the NSPCC in the wake of the accusations in football received more than 50 calls in its first two hours.

The Football Association in England has launched an internal review, with chairman Greg Clarke describing it as the biggest crisis in the governing body's history.

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