A former Chelsea player has revealed he was paid £50,000 by the Premier League club not to go public with allegations that he was sexually abused by former chief scout Eddie Heath.
Gary Johnson, who played for the senior team from 1978 to 1981, said he was sexually assaulted hundreds of times by Heath while in the youth side, which he joined when he was 11, the Mirror reports.
Reports have recently claimed that Chelsea made a payment to an individual in the last three years following allegations regarding Heath, and Johnson has now waived his anonymity to say he was the former player in question.
Oligarch-owned, Premier League Chelsea paid Gary Johnson £50,000 to keep horrific abuse secret. In 2015. Dreadful https://t.co/1iESSWiC65
— David Conn (@david_conn) December 2, 2016
The ex-forward said the chief scout – who died from a heart attack in the 1980s – first groomed him at the age of 13 up until he reached 16 or 17.
He told the Mirror:
I felt shame, I felt my childhood had been taken away. I spent my late teens in turmoil, absolute turmoil. Millions of fans around the world watch Chelsea. They are one of the biggest and richest clubs in the world.
All their fans deserve to know the truth about what went on. I know they asked me to sign a gagging order and how many others are there out there. They may have paid others for their silence. I hope and pray no clubs are allowed to cover this up – no one should escape justice. We need total transparency now for the good of the game. What makes me so angry is that I went to them to say I had been abused and they basically said, ‘prove it’.
FA chairman Greg Clarke has described the current situation as ‘the biggest crisis’ he can remember in the game and said the FA acted ‘very quickly’.
On Thursday, the Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn said any club guilty of ‘hushing up’ sexual abuse to protect its image would be punished.
Glenn said: “We have clear rules in the game and if there’s any evidence of a breach of those – and hushing up would be one – when it’s our turn to apply the rules, we absolutely will, regardless of size of club.”
Authorities have since confirmed 350 new victims of sexual abuse in football have come forward to notify police, while the special soccer abuse hotline has received 860 calls.