Learn about the various types of abuse in sports, who you can claim compensation from, where to report abuse in sports for both amateur and elite levels, and steps being taken to improve safeguarding and welfare across all sports. Skip to main content

What type of abuse can I claim for?

Whatever type of sport you participate in the club, coaches and other staff will be responsible for your safety and welfare. Abuse in sports can take various forms.

  • Sexual abuse and assault.
    This may be a single incident or a pattern of abuse. The close physical contact that many sports can involve provides the opportunity for sexual abuse and for those involved in coaching and teaching to take advantage of their position or role.
  • Physical abuse and assault
    This may involve a violent or one-off physical assault or pattern of assaults. It may also include the situation where an individual is pushed physically beyond their limitations causing them injury.
  • Emotional Abuse
    Those involved in coaching, scouting for talent and organising leading events, classes and training sessions are all in positions of power and trust. They are often well respected by those they guide or teach and may use their position to cause harm through manipulation and emotional abuse.
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Who can I claim compensation from if I have suffered abuse in sport?

Generally, claims for compensation will be pursued against the sports club, organisation, company or charity that is responsible for the person who committed the abuse. Generally, this may be their employer. Many coaches and other trainers work Independently. In such circumstances, your solicitor will identify whether there is a governing body or other organisation that exercises sufficient control over the individual. It may also be possible to bring the claim directly against the individual in some circumstances.

Our organisational sexual abuse compensation calculator shows what compensation you could be entitled to claim.

Grass roots and Amateur sports

It is not just the professional sporting world where abuse can occur. Many children, young people and adults attend sports clubs or classes after school or work or in their leisure time. Civil law applies equally to all cases and a claim for compensation may be brought irrespective of whether the abuse occurred at an amateur or an elite level.

Elite Sports

There has been much media reporting on abuse in sports in recent years, which has mainly focused on football, including abuse by former coaches Barry Bennell and Bob Higgins. Since then, we have seen allegations of sexual and physical abuse across a whole range of sports. Coaches, trainers and others involved in sports are often in positions of power or trust and may have a great deal of influence, often being held in high esteem by those working with and around them. Young athletes and sportspersons are often under pressure. The sporting world tends to have tight-knit social circles and where abuse does occur many will be reluctant to report the abuse through fear of not being believed or through fear that it may hinder their career.

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Who should I report any sexual of physical abuse in sport to?

We always advise that were abuse or assault has occurred it will also likely be a criminal offence and should therefore be reported to the police who have specially trained officers in the Family and Child Protection Units.

All clubs, societies and sports bodies should also have their own safeguarding and welfare policies and any concerns or abuse can and should be reported. Following the recent sports abuse scandals there have been numerous independent inquiries, including:

  • Sheldon Review (football)
  • Whyte Review (gymnastics)
  • IICSA Report – Child sexual abuse in sports  

In January 2022 UK Sport and Sports England announced a package of reforms to improve safeguarding and welfare across all sports.