Only four Scottish football clubs show sexual misconduct policy proof

Scotland Tonight investigates how professional clubs across the country handle sexual misconduct cases.

Only four professional Scottish football clubs show evidence of sexual misconduct policy SNS Group

Just four Scottish football clubs out of the SPFL pyramid’s 42 teams have shown evidence of having policies in place relating to sexual misconduct.

A total of 12 football clubs claimed to have policies which covered sexual misconduct but refused to share those policies with STV News.

The findings come following the launch of the End Sexual Misconduct in Sport campaign which calls on all professional sports clubs in Scotland to enforce robust sexual misconduct policies.

The campaign has written its own template policy for clubs to use or base their own policies around.

Scotland Tonight contacted all the teams in the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) to discover what policies they had in place around sexual misconduct.

The investigation defined sexual misconduct as misogyny, sexual harassment, sexual violence, lack of consent, sexual abuse and abuse of power.

Only one football club – Dumbarton – had an individual policy centred specifically on sexual misconduct.

More than half did not respond and two clubs – Raith Rovers and Montrose – said they did not have such a policy in place.

Breakdown of football club results

Clubs which have a specific sexual misconduct policy in place: (1): Dumbarton 

Clubs which have policy relating to sexual misconduct and provided proof (3): Partick Thistle, Bonnyrigg Rose, Clyde 

Clubs which claim to have policy but will not show proof (12) : Celtic, Rangers, Hibernian, Hearts, Aberdeen, Kilmarnock, Livingston, Ross County, St Johnstone, Cove Rangers, Motherwell, Elgin City 

Clubs which have not responded (25) : St Mirren, Dundee, Dundee United, Queens Park, Ayr United, Greenock Morton, Arbroath, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Hamilton Accies, Airdrieonians, Albion Rovers, Alloa Athletic, Annan Athletic, Dunfermline Athletic, East Fife, Falkirk, FC Edinburgh, Forfar Athletic, Kelty Hearts, Peterhead, Queen of the South, Stenhousemuir, Stirling Albion, Stranraer 

No policy (2): Raith Rovers and Montrose

 Raith Rovers Football Club faced a huge backlash when they signed David GoodwillieSNS Group

When asked if they have any policies that specifically refer to players and staff’s involvement in sexual misconduct, Raith Rovers, who previously signed rapist David Goodwillie, stated they do not “at the present time”.

Rovers faced huge backlash when they signed the striker back in January 2022. Goodwillie, who was ruled to be a rapist in a 2017 civil case, was only released from his contract in September 2022.

A spokesperson from Raith Rovers told Scotland Tonight: “The club has very recently undergone a change of ownership, and this is one of many areas that will be addressed in the coming months.”

The Scottish FA has their own regulations for members, including one on harassment. But all clubs have various individual policies relating to the way members and players should conduct themselves.

According to the Scottish FA handbook, “No official, Team Official, other member of Team Staff or player shall engage in harassment, either orally or physically, of any of the match officials so officiating, during and/or directly after a match involving the club of the official, Team Official, other member of Team Staff or player.”

In response to the investigation, a Scottish FA spokesperson said: “As part of our mandatory club licensing process, all professional clubs in Scotland are required to implement an Equality Policy that covers a variety of abusive behaviours, including sexual harassment.

“Anyone who has experienced any form of sexual misconduct within Scottish Football is encouraged to make contact with the Scottish FA Wellbeing and Protection team, who are available to provide support and advice directly to individuals about their available options.”

The Scottish Professional Football League has been approached for comment.

Scotland Tonight also contacted the country’s two professional rugby teams – Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh Rugby – as well as the professional ice hockey teams – Fife Flyers, Dundee Stars and Glasgow Clan.

All rugby and ice hockey clubs had policies in place which related to sexual misconduct and were able to provide proof. However, none had a specific policy in place to tackle sexual misconduct.

Fife Flyers have a sexual misconduct policy which they said will be implemented at the start of the ice hockey season in September.

In a joint statement, Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors – which are both owned by Scottish Rugby – said there are a series of policies that would apply to any allegations of sexual misconduct including a disciplinary policy, inclusion, diversity and wellbeing policy, grievance policy, safeguarding policy and a whistleblowing policy.

As well as having policies in place, the clubs said they “prioritise education and training in all matters relating to sexual misconduct, male allyship, and unconscious bias”.

Over the past 18 months, Scottish Rugby has worked with Police Scotland to deliver “That Guy” and “Is that Me” workshops to players and colleagues on the prevention of sexual offending and entitlement. Training on male allyship and unconscious bias has also been delivered by equality, inclusion, and diversity specialists, at Scottish Rugby board level.

The Tell Us whistleblowing service has been launched to offer a safe way to raise concerns, at all levels of the game in Scotland, in order that issues can be raised and dealt with swiftly.

Dumbarton Football Stadium reported having a specific sexual misconduct policy in place (photo by Paul Byars / SNS Group)SNS Group

All these processes are audited annually by Sportscotland, the national agency for sport in Scotland.

In a joint statement from Dundee Stars, Fife Flyers and Glasgow Clan, it stated: “All three Scottish professional clubs have internal policies that adhere to the directives set out by our world-wide governing body IIHF.

“As professional sports teams we are driven to create an environment, where ice hockey is for all. We have a zero tolerance approach towards any forms of discrimination be that towards our players, staff, volunteers and especially our fans.

“Further, we also have a zero tolerance approach towards any forms of misconduct relating to our players, staff, volunteers and fans.”

A SportScotland spokesperson said: “Sport should be a safe and welcoming environment for everyone, and this must be underpinned by robust policies and procedures to ensure that any complaints of sexual misconduct can be dealt with fairly and rigorously.

“As the national agency for sport we work with governing bodies to ensure that they have appropriate safeguarding policies in place and access to relevant training for their workforce.

“There can be no place for sexual misconduct or discrimination of any kind in sport and it is clear from this investigation that steps must be taken to ensure that clubs fully understand their responsibilities regarding any such allegations.”

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