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Victims in football abuse scandal need full truth

The Football Association in England is the latest major institution to be rocked by allegations of widespread historical child sexual abuse.

It is a pattern we have seen before. A small number of people bravely come forward and then the floodgates seem to open.

It may be that other victims realise they are not alone in their trauma or the reaction to the initial claims gives them the strength to speak out.

Whatever the reason the claims of abuse in football have revealed yet another deeply disturbing picture of vulnerable children and teenagers being preyed on by vile and manipulative paedophiles.

Men who insinuate their way into positions of trust and responsibility - in this case in football clubs and youth organisations - where their victims feel helpless in the face of someone with power over them.

The footballers who have come forward in recent days are men clearly traumatised by their appalling experiences.

Among them is former Northern Ireland international Mark Williams who has claimed he was abused when he was aged 11 by serial paedophile and football coach Barry Bennell at Pegasus, the Manchester City nursery team, and also at Crewe Alexandra.

Mr Williams said he felt able to speak out after former Sheffield United player Andy Woodward said he was abused by Bennell at Crewe.

While Bennell is a key figure in this scandal, former players have come forward about others who have abused youngsters.

So far 13 police forces in Britain are investigating sex abuse claims in the football community with a staggering 250 reports received in just a few days.

The Football Association has begun an internal review with chairman Greg Clarke admitting he does not know if abuse was covered up by the authorities.

As with other bodies embroiled in historical child abuse, questions will be asked about what was known and what was done to protect children.

The FA must be completely open about this scandal and show it is determined to uncover the truth.

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Leading article