AFTER news that Celtic wants the SFA to look into sickening chants from Aberdeen supporters about child abuse, Safe founder Dave Sharp called on the government to stop turning its back on historical child abuse in football.

In the last year, the issue of historical child abuse in Scottish football has come to the fore and we are seeing more convictions for these horrific crimes. As far as I know the number of people who have come forward who have been identified as victims now stands at over 150. Concerns have been linked to at least seven clubs, but the true scale of the issue is likely to be far greater.

Why then, is it seen as acceptable by some to make light of the problem? Those responsible have jumped on the fact that Celtic has been linked to convictions and so far, no other club has. At Celtic games it is not uncommon to see lewd banners, effigies depicting priests and children, and songs being sung making a mockery of the issue. It is not something to make light of or to use as a weapon against a football team you don’t like. It has become so cancerous that it is not just a ‘west of Scotland’ problem – this attitude is spreading and can be seen and heard at at matches across the country yet the Scottish Government and the SFA refuse to comment or do anything about it.

Along with the abhorrent behaviour at matches, social media is now awash with hatred, anger and even death threats for anyone who dares to speak out about their experiences. Survivors are regularly bombarded with the most horrific abuse and threats on their lives just for saying what happened to them, and the journalists who write about it receive the same.

As the issue started to growing last year, more people were expecting the government to step in and investigate, but they have continued to say the child abuse inquiry will not involve spots institutions. For those of us who has been campaigning for years to get justice for other survivors, it was not surprising. We have always said that not enough is being done to encourage survivors to speak out, and this is another example. However, when you see people appear on social media, having never dealt with their issues and are trying to ask for help, being abused and hounded by people who support the same club as them its heart-breaking. Survivors cant win either way. On the one hand you have people who they beleive should be helping them but who are threatening them to keep quite and on the other hand you have people using the abuse to score points and incite hatred.

I spent the first 16 years of my life in Catholic run homes and was violently abused. Many other boys suffered the same. When we see banners of priests and children, or hear songs being sung joking about child abuse, its sends many of us to despair and makes us feel as if our experiences are not being taken seriously. Seek And Find Everyone (S.A.F.E), which I helped to set up, has received calls from distraught survivors who are also football fans at all times of day and night, having struggled to deal with comments, songs or banners related to child abuse.

What we are seeing now on social media is an explosion of hatred and anger and confusion because no one seems to be in control or willing to give any answers to the many questions and on any given day you can see child abuse survivors crying out to the SFA and people like Humza Yousaf the justice minister for help and for answers and they are just being ignored and this has to stop. This is what is fuelling all the anger and hatred and everyone can see it. Over the last year I have seen dozens of survivors suffer abuse on social media then they have just disappeared and have never been heard from again. This has become deeply worrying.

Politicians and sports organisations need to step up, take ownership of what has happened and do all they can to encourage more people to come forward to report their experiences. Without that, we will never understand the issue and we will never get closer to stopping it happening to more children.