Referrals from calls to a dedicated football abuse hotline more than tripled the amount made in the first three days of the Jimmy Savile scandal, the NSPCC has revealed.
Launched on November 23 to support the victims of child sex abuse within football, the charity said more than 860 calls had been made to the helpline in its first week.
NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said there had been a “staggering surge” in the amount of people getting in touch.
He said: “The number of high-profile footballers bravely speaking out about their ordeal has rightly caught the attention of the entire country.
“We have had a staggering surge in calls to our football hotline, which reveals the worrying extent of abuse that had been going on within the sport.”
The helpline was set up with the support and funding of the Football Association after former player Andy Woodward revealed he had been abused as a young player at Crewe Alexandra Football Club.
Within two hours of the opening of the helpline, the charity said it had been contacted 50 times by members of the public. Within the first three days, it had made 60 referrals to the police or children’s services.
The charity made 17 such referrals In the same time frame following the opening of its Savile helpline in 2012.
Mr Wanless said anyone who wishes to contact the helpline “can do so in confidence, with the knowledge they will be listened to and supported”.
“In future, footballers – both young players and former athletes – must have the confidence to open up about sexual abuse and feel able to come forward,” he said.
The NSPCC’s football abuse helpline can be called 24 hours a day on 0800 023 2642.