Joyce Cook calls on global bodies to unite and ‘beat the silence’ around abuse in sport

  • FIFA Senior Advisor to the President’s Office was speaking at the launch of the “Let’s beat the silence” campaign

  • The campaign is being led by Italy’s Department for Sport of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers

  • On the mandate of FIFA President Gianni Infantino, Joyce Cook is leading a new project on the delivery of an independent safe sports entity

Joyce Cook has reiterated the importance of a unified approach across all governing bodies, federations, associations and authorities when it comes to tackling abuse in sport. Speaking at the launch of a new campaign being led by the Italian government, Joyce Cook spoke of the responsibility and duty of care sports administrators have, and how crucial it is for all entities to work together to achieve a safe environment for all. “As sports organisations we want to ensure that ever more children around the globe can enjoy all the benefits that sport can bring,” she told delegates gathered in Rome, via Zoom. “As the custodians of sport that means that we have an absolute responsibility to do all we can to keep our children safe in sport. “One of the most compelling threats to the integrity of sport is abuse, in particular sexual abuse, with children the most vulnerable and the most at risk. It’s a problem that occurs across all countries and all sectors of society, and sport is certainly not immune from this crime.”

The launch event was hosted by the Department for Sport of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, and was attended by Undersecretary with responsibility for sport Valentina Vezzali, FIFA Council Member Evelina Christillin, CISMAI ISPCAN 2020 Head and Scientific Director Rocco Briganti and Head of the Department for Sport Michele Sciscioli. The “Battiamo il silenzio” (“Let’s beat the silence”) campaign has brought together 26 child protection associations and sports bodies together to define the tools and good practices for the protection of minors in sport – with the aim of bringing stakeholders together to implement a unified approach.

As sports organisations we want to ensure that ever more children around the globe can enjoy all the benefits that sport can bring

“We know that abuse most often occurs at the hands of someone a child knows and trusts,” Joyce Cook continued. “Around the world and across all sports, incidents of sexual, physical, emotional abuse, neglect and exploitation have been well documented, with children especially vulnerable. “It is also clear when considering child abuse in sport that we need to work ever more closely as sports bodies together with governments, statutory criminal and child protection agencies, expert entities and civil society, and importantly we need to listen to groups that represent voices of experience and survivors of abuse in sport. Sport of course cannot tackle such crimes alone.”

Joyce Cook recently announced she would be leaving her role as Chief Social Responsibility and Education Officer to take up a new senior advisory role to the President’s Office – working primarily on the delivery of an independent safe sport entity. During the six years prior to that she oversaw substantial progress in the area of safeguarding within sport, including the appointment of FIFA’s first ever safeguarding manager, the creation of a dedicated FIFA Safeguarding and Child Protection Department and the launch of the FIFA Guardians Safeguarding programme – an initiative implemented to professionalise the role of safeguarding officers across football.