“The intention of the review was to shine a bright light in the dark corners of the Club’s history so that we can learn lessons to help protect the players of the future,” says the lengthy statement published on the official Chelsea website this morning, which accompanies the even lengthier and often harrowing reports from the two separate external inquiries that were launched last year looking into allegations of historical child and racial abuse at the club.
In short: the allegations were almost all true, and the details paint a picture of the club and senior figures at the club either turning a blind eye, or worse, enabling the abusers.
Eddie Heath, then the club’s chief scount and who passed away in the 1980s, was a “dangerous and prolific child abuser”, says the statement, and the full report makes it a point to call out then Chelsea assistant Dario Gradi for not reporting and stopping this behavior. (Gradi also faces similar questions for his subsequent role at Crewe Alexandra.)
The results of the racial abuse inquiry are no less shocking, and found “numerous examples of [Coach Gwyn Williams] humiliating and ridiculing black players by making racially derogatory remarks about them”. This behavior at the time was also often overlooked or just excused as “banter” or a “sign of the times” (both in terms of the racial abuse and the general abuse directed towards all the young players as a sort of “test”). Fellow youth coach Graham Rix was also described as abusive and aggressive, though not in a racial sense. Both Williams and Rix have denied these allegations.
Neither inquiry was a criminal inquiry, though Chelsea will have passed on the findings to the relevant authorities, and will of course continue to work hard to ensure that these things no longer happen at the club. Full apologies and support has been offered to the victims of historical abuse, and hopefully the current safeguarding practices will help avoid such future abuse.