sports gazette

Mark Sudbury: FA could see bullying inquiry after British Swimming complaints

Published: 24 Mar 2017

An inquiry into bullying in football could happen very soon at the Football Association, a former senior employee says.

British Swimming’s investigation into claims of bullying by coaches was announced by BBC Sport on Thursday 23rd March.

But Mark Sudbury, former Head of Public Affairs at the FA, says this could also become an issue for the FA very soon.

Speaking exclusively to the Sports Gazette, Mr. Sudbury said: “There is probably a hell of a lot going on that wasn’t exposed.

“I think it will be a really, really interesting one to watch and it will be a very sticky challenge for the FA.”

“They won’t know what went on and will not have access to information and they will be exposed by people digging into it.”

Mr. Sudbury, now Senior Director of Global Engagement at St. Mary’s, joined the FA in January 1995 and stayed for 8 years, promoting campaigns such as ‘Kick it Out’.

He said that if an inquiry into bullying in football was conducted it could expose more problems for the FA.

“I think we will probably see this open up as a big thing over the coming years,” Mr. Sudbury said.

“We were dealing with different cultural norms 20 or 30 years ago and I think it will be difficult for organisations to handle.”

There is probably a hell of a lot going on that wasn’t exposed.

The FA has come under heavy scrutiny and an inquiry into bullying in football would increase the mounting pressure.

It started on September 27th 2016 when Sam Allardyce was exposed in a Daily Telegraph investigation into bribery in football and forced to resign.

The Sport, Culture & Media Select Committee launched an inquiry into the governance of football weeks later.

In November, former footballer Andy Woodward, 43, waived his anonymity and opened up about being sexually abused as a child.

This led to a major inquiry being launched into over 400 football clubs and the trial of ex-football coach Barry Bennell this month.

But the FA hit a new low last month when the Select Committee made a ‘vote of no confidence’ in the FA’s governance.

Mr. Sudbury said: “What I have seen from the FA is that they have quite a defensive mode and they will probably have to carry on that way.”

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