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Football’s child sex abuse scandal: A timeline

Boys playing football Image copyright Thinkstock

Young footballers were targeted for years at Chelsea by a "prolific and manipulative sexual abuser" who was able to operate "unchallenged", according to a damning report.

Evidence from 23 victims details how former chief scout Eddie Heath groomed and abused young boys aged between 10 and 17 during the 1970s.

Here's how the scandal surrounding allegations of historical child sex abuse has unfolded:

16 November 2016: Former Crewe player Andy Woodward waives his anonymity in an interview with The Guardian to reveal he was sexually abused as a child by former coach Barry Bennell. He is the first player to discuss these events publicly.

23 November 2016: Former England and Tottenham footballer Paul Stewart tells the Mirror he was abused by a coach when he was a child. The coach is later named as Frank Roper, who has links to Blackpool FC.

23 November 2016: The NSPCC sets up a hotline with the FA dedicated to helping footballers who've experienced sexual abuse. More than 860 calls are received in the first week.

25 November 2016: BBC's Victoria Derbyshire speaks to Woodward and Steve Walters and Chris Unsworth, former youth team players who also waived their anonymity. They were all sexually abused by former Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra coach Bennell.

November 2016: Investigations by police forces including Cheshire, Northumbria, Metropolitan and Greater Manchester begin.

November 2016: Several clubs, including Crewe Alexandra, Manchester City and Chelsea launch independent reviews into historic abuse.

December 2016: The Football Association (FA), the governing body for football in England, announces an independent inquiry into non-recent child sex abuse, led by barrister Clive Sheldon QC. The Scottish Football Association also announces a review.

2 December 2016: Ex-Chelsea player Gary Johnson claims the club paid him £50,000 to keep quiet about allegations against former chief scout Eddie Heath, who is now dead.

11 January 2017: It is reported that the independent review into allegations of child abuse in football has made its first call for evidence, writing to all football clubs in England and Wales, amateur and professional, asking for information about allegations between 1970 and 2005.

10 April 2017: Fresh allegations of child sex abuse are made against the founder of Celtic Boys' Club, Jim Torbett, in a BBC Scotland programme. He is later jailed for six years after being convicted of sexually abusing three boys over an eight-year period.

19 February 2018: Ex-football coach Barry Bennell is jailed for 31 years at Liverpool Crown Court for 50 counts of child sexual abuse.

3 July 2018: Youth coach George Ormond, who worked for Newcastle United's youth system in the 1990s, is convicted of a string of sex abuse offences spanning 25 years.

7 January 2019: Michael "Kit" Carson dies in a car crash on the first day of his sex abuse trial at Peterborough Crown Court. He denied charges related to 11 boys under the age of 16. He worked at Norwich City, Peterborough United and Cambridge United.

12 March 2019: Manchester City sets up a multi-million pound compensation scheme for victims of historical child sexual abuse carried out by former coaches at the club.

14 May 2019: Jim McCafferty, a coach and kit man for the Celtic youth team, is given a further jail sentence after admitting a series of child sex abuse crimes. He is the fourth man connected to Celtic or Celtic Boys' Club to be found guilty of historical sexual abuse in the year to May.

23 May 2019: At Bournemouth crown court,Bob Higgins is found guilty of 45 charges of indecent assault against teenage boys. Most of his victims were trainees at Southampton FC and Peterborough United.

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