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Ex-football coach jailed for 24 years for abusing teenage players for decades

Ex-football coach, Bob Higgins, has been jailed for 24 years and three months for abusing 24 teenage boys.

Football pitch

12 June 2019

Bob Higgins, aged 66, ran the youth training programmes at Southampton and Peterborough football clubs and also as the Maltese national youth coach. 
 
Over a 25 year period, Higgins sexually abused 24 teenage players. Last year, he was convicted on one count of indecent assault and 45 counts during a retrial which concluded last month.

During the trial at Winchester Crown Court, victims spoke about their abuse, in similar situations, during post-exercise massages, in his car while he played love songs, and at his home on his sofa. The victims also described Higgins as a mentor and a God-like, father-figure. 
 
Former professional footballer Billy Seymour, who died in a car crash in January 2019, waived his anonymity to raise awareness of the issues surrounding the case. His mother, Jean, read out his statement in court which said: "Let me get this over with, as I am sick to my stomach of giving you any more thoughts of substance or consideration. You deserve nothing.

"As you listen to this, you will be sat there awaiting your fate. I too have sat there in the dock and have lost my liberty on several occasions due to my poor mental health and my violent, abusive behaviour.

"Only now am I coming to terms with what you did to me as a young, defenceless lad who admired you, hero-worshipped you and, I feel sick to my stomach to say this, even loved you."

Catriona Rubens, a lawyer in the abuse team at Leigh Day, said:

“This is not the first case of sexual abuse against children in football clubs. Barry Bennell and George Ormond are other examples of coaches committing sexual offences against junior players. These cases have helped to expose the scale of abuse that young football players have endured in UK clubs for decades.

“Higgins is the latest example of a football coach using his influence and power to manipulate the ambitions of junior players. We hope that more is done by the FA to prevent any further abuse.”

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