Thursday, October 21

“My father passed away without knowing that he had been sexually abused”

  • Olympic gymnast explains her work at FIFA to protect children in sport

  • “Children do not report. But it is not their responsibility, but of the adults. In my case everything failed ”

Gloria Visors she was a child prodigy in artistic gymnastics. He started with eight years in a gym in Madrid. From there he went to a technical center, where a group of girls began to train with a Russian couple and then do it with Jesús Carballo. His career was going well. In 1980 he participated in the Moscow Olympics 1980. She was champion of Spain that same year, in which she also abandoned the sport.

He had the possibility to go to other Games, but his personality had completely changed. She wouldn’t stop crying, so her father took her out of there. He had been sexually abused by his coach for about four years. He reported it 30 years later. “My father passed away without knowing that I had been sexually abused, but he did see how emotionally it was affecting me,” he says.

“I wanted to tell my parents but the words wouldn’t come out. I felt super guilty.”

“Children do not report. But it is not their responsibility, but of the adults. In my case everything failed. He just couldn’t talk about it. I wanted to tell my parents but the words would not come out. I felt super guilty. The little ones don’t talk about this, so you have to provide safe environments and train all the people to know what to do if they see something, ”he explains.

Since his complaint was released to the press, he has collaborated as much as he can with his experience. “I get calls and emails from ex-athletes asking for help… or just to talk. Family members of minor athletes also contact me asking for help and advice ”, he related years ago on his blog.

She assures that she, in her situation, missed the help of the adults who were around. Those who later confessed that they suspected something strange was going on. It also highlights that prevention is key. Two ideas with which he now exercises his work at FIFA. The federation began in 2018 its path in the ‘Safeguarding and protection of minors in sport’ and today it has a Department dedicated to it with three people who are in charge of implementing the FIFA GuardiansTM Program. Shortly before she arrived, they published a guide, the FIFA Guardians Tool, with templates to implement protection policies, protocols and procedures in member federations.

Youth and Women’s World Cups

According to Viseras, they now have two work areas. The one she leads seeks to implement safeguards and protection in FIFA tournaments, with special attention paid to youth -Us-20 and U-17- and to the women’s world championships. “They are the two groups that we have identified as priorities right now, which does not mean that we do not also work in the men’s world championships. Childhood tends to be very affected in cities that host a major sporting event ”, he assures.

The other area is addressed in a special way to the member associations. With the Open University of the United Kingdom, they have developed an educational program, the FIFA GuardiansTM Safeguarding Minors in Sport Diploma, with five online courses – open and free for everyone – and several webinars. It is aimed at professionalizing the figure of the protection delegate in their associations. With it they seek to standardize the safeguarding and protection in football worldwide and explain how to respond to the cases that appear. Kaká was one of their ambassadors.

“It is the first program in the world in any sport of these characteristics. It helps federations get started on a topic that is new for everyone and that is particularly focused on children and the most vulnerable groups of adults ”, he says.

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Psychological abuse

But the program is not only concerned with prevention: it also wants to help give an adequate response to the management of possible cases. And not only to the most extreme, such as sexual abuse, but they seek a cultural change in sport. They want to end the mistreatment and psychological and emotional abuse that the little ones can suffer. They also seek to end that image of screaming coaches. “Problems that seem minor may be an indication that it is a risky environment for children,” he says.

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