FIFA president Gianni Infantino on Thursday vowed “zero tolerance” for child sex abuse in football following an escalating scandal involving coaches and former players in England.
The world football chief said anyone found to have committed abuse should be banned from the sport “without question” and face criminal charges.
“There are few things in life, not just football life, worse than child (sex) abuse, so it has to be taken seriously,” he told reporters after a three-day FIFA summit in Singapore.
“There must be zero tolerance from a football perspective, but also a criminal perspective as well,” Infantino added.
“We probably have to look into that with more care and more attention in order to prevent any potential child abuse in the future,” he said.
Asked if he was worried the scandal would grow into a much bigger issue beyond just the English Football Association, Infantino said: “Certainly what we have to do is to have it taken very seriously, and that’s what we’re doing now… looking at it very, very seriously.”
Over the past three weeks, English football has been reeling from a series of allegations of sexual abuse of youth players at the hands of their coaches, mostly in the 1970s and 1980s.
About 20 former players have spoken out so far over allegations and the English FA has promised to investigate the claims.
According to reports, 55 clubs have been named to police and 18 different police forces across the country are investigating claims.
The scandal blew up as former Crewe Alexandra youth scout Barry Bennell, a convicted paedophile, was charged with abusing players last week.
The FA chairman has said the scandal is the biggest crisis in the association that he can remember, according to media reports.