Findings published from Children 1st's Independent Review of the Scottish Youth Football Association

In April, the Scottish FA commissioned an independent review of the Scottish Youth Football Association’s appointment and selection practice after some failings were highlighted.

Children 1st’s Safeguarding in Sport service has now completed the review, which has been presented to the Board of the Scottish FA, shared with our colleagues at the SYFA and published in full.

 A total of 13 recommendations have been made, including:

The Scottish FA to put in place a robust process to monitor and evaluate all safeguarding procedures of all Affiliated National Associations (ANAs) and setting-out the consequences for non-compliance with the Scottish FA Board Directive issued in October 2016.

  • SYFA to include a Board Member whose remit includes safeguarding children and young people in youth football, with all SYFA Board members to participate in a basic child wellbeing and protection awareness-raising session.
  • Dedicated human resource to be allocated to provide an operational lead on safeguarding in the SYFA.
  • A detailed review to be undertaken of the structure and purpose of the SYFA Protection Panel, to ensure it is sufficiently resourced to support the 3000+ clubs in youth football.
  • SYFA to end the practice of Provisional Membership, ensuring that no adult is appointed into regulated work with children and young people until they have been confirmed as a PVG Scheme Member.
  • A minimum of two SYFA representatives to review any PVG certificate that is returned with vetting information before making a decision on whether to escalate it to the Protection Panel for further consideration.

All recommendations are accepted by the Scottish FA and the SYFA. Together with the SYFA, an implementation plan has been developed for each recommendation.

Stewart Regan, Scottish FA Chief Executive, said: “We are grateful to Children 1st’s Safeguarding in Sport service for their thorough review and are committed to working with the SYFA to ensure that the thousands of children and young people who participate in the national game every year under their auspices are able to enjoy the many benefits of football in a safe environment.

“We have been encouraged by the SYFA’s redoubling of efforts to embed good recruitment and selection practices, including PVG membership when required, and to implement the Scottish FA Board Directive issued to all affiliated bodies regarding child wellbeing and protection.”

Mary Glasgow, Interim Chief Executive, Children 1st, Scotland’s national children’s charity, said: “Practice within the SYFA has clearly progressed since concerns about selection and appointment were identified by the Scottish Parliament Health and Sport Committee. We welcome the SYFA and Scottish FA’s commitment to adopt Children 1st’s recommendations in full.

“Robustly assessing the suitability of volunteers and other officials is a key element in keeping children and young people safe from harm. It is simply unacceptable for any adult who has not been suitably assessed to be left alone with children and young people. Individuals within clubs, the SYFA, other football associations and the Scottish FA need to be clear about their responsibilities to ensure children can enjoy football safely and there must be clear lines of accountability at every level of football.

“Appropriate processes and procedures accompanied by a culture that focuses on children’s best interests will provide the best safeguards for children and young people to stay safe and have fun in sport.”

SYFA Chairman John McCrimmond said: “We’ve made enormous progress in recent months and are very confident the detailed and comprehensive plans we have agreed with the Scottish FA will ensure we achieve the highest possible standards for safeguarding in youth sport in Scotland.”