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Kyniska Advocacy’s five-point plan to halt sexual violence in sport

A women in sport campaign group has published an action plan to halt sexual violence in sport.

Posted on 21 April 2022

Kyniska Advocacy’s report: Stamping Out Sexual Violence in Sport calls for:

  • An independent body for duty of care and safeguarding in sport
  • Mandatory reporting of abuse and misconduct to the police and the independent body for sport
  • Ringfenced funding for safeguarding and welfare from sports councils
  • A national licensing scheme and register for sports coaches
  • Lifetime bans for abusive coaches in cases of any form of abuse

Kyniska Advocacy, whose aim is to create a sporting world that celebrates, protects and respects women in sport, was assisted in its work to produce its report by Leigh Day partner and sexual abuse claims specialist, solicitor Dino Nocivelli.

The group points out that a legacy of traditionalism and resistance to change prevail in sport and more work is needed to ensure that regardless of age, everyone is protected from coercive control, emotional and psychological abuse, physical abuse and sexual violence.

The 2020 UK Sport Culture Health Check found that only 39 per cent of athletes who witnessed or experienced unacceptable behaviour went on to report it. Only 22 per cent of those who reported such behaviour believed it was dealt with satisfactorily.

People are reluctant to speak out for fear of the consequences in tightly knit sports communities, particularly the possible effects on their own sporting careers, says Kyniska.

As illustrated just this week when Bradley Wiggins disclosed the abuse he suffered as a young teenager in cycling, the cost to individuals through psychiatric illnesses, anxiety and depression is substantial, quite apart from the immeasurable damage to society, sports industry and sports governing bodies.

Kyniska says that the measures it proposes would bring vital change.

An independent body for duty of care and safeguarding in sport was proposed by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson in 2017 and reiterated by the House of Lords National Plan for Sport and Recreation Committee in 2021.

Mandatory reporting of abuse and misconduct to the police and the independent body for sport would bring the UK in line with most other countries in the world, where a duty to report abuse ensures full transparency and allows data to be collected on levels of sexual violence.

Ringfenced funding for safeguarding and welfare from sports councils would ensure that national sporting governing bodies would have full time paid and fully trained welfare officers.

A national licensing scheme and register for sports coaches would allow for cross-sport coaching bans and for national sporting governing bodies and other employers to check whether a coach is banned, and if so for what reason. It would be operated by the independent body for sport and be publicly accessible.

Lifetime bans for abusive coaches in cases of any form of abuse would follow the effective lead set by UK Athletics and result in more athletes being protected from abuse.

Leigh Day partner Dino Nocivelli said:

“For far too long we have left individual sports to manage allegations of abuse and safeguarding, and sadly we have seen time and time again that this has been to the detriment of athletes. As a result I fully endorse the calls from Kyniska and Tanni Grey-Thompson for an independent sports ombudsman.

“I have campaigned for many years for mandatory reporting to be implemented not only in respect of abuse within sport but all areas of society as stopping abuse should be a priority for all of us and we need to help take the burden off victims and survivors being the only ones to report. It is criminal for adults in positions of trust to not act on allegations of abuse and it is therefore time to make it in an actual criminal offence.”

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Dino Nocivelli
Abuse claims

Dino Nocivelli

Dino is an experienced child sexual abuse claims lawyer

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