By 90Min
February 18, 2018

The Football Association has opened an independent inquiry as to why a pioneering study designed to protect children from sexual abuse had its funding pulled early on.

As reported by the Daily Mail, the inquiry has been brought to light after pedophile and former coach Barry Bennell was convicted of 43 further sexual assault cases. 

The FA underwent a series of budget cuts in 2003 in an attempt to relocate money towards Wembley and St George's Park.

Despite the budget cuts, the salary of England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson wasn't affected, and he remained earning around £2.5m-a-year. 

Former FA chief executive Adam Crozier began the study, hiring Professor Celia Brackenridge as the head of the project. Gareth Nutt, who worked alongside Brackenridge throughout the study stated the goal was "to gauge the impact of their policies and training all the way from Premier League to the grass roots."

Nutt claimed the pulling of funding limited their findings, stating: ‘It was meant to be a longitudinal study over four to six years to get some sense of the impact of their policies on young people. We did two years before the funding recalled.

‘We were disappointed [when funding was stopped]. I think the whole team was disappointed. The project was beginning to develop some valuable data which could have been of advantage top the FA and, in due course, to the clubs."

Despite the early pull of funding, Professor Brackenridge still believes the FA has found a way to effectively protect the youth associated with the sport, stating "I would argue that for the child protection work they do now, they are the leading sports’ governing body in the world."

The inquiry is under the oversight of Clive Sheldon, who is expected to report on the topic around Easter time this year. His probe is understood to be on why funding was pulled from an issue this critical, yet was left in other areas. 

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