LONDON (Reuters) - Crewe Alexandra confirmed on Monday that their veteran director of football Dario Gradi had been suspended pending an FA investigation into claims of historical child sex abuse in English soccer.
“Following discussions with the Football Association, Crewe Alexandra Football Club can confirm that Dario Gradi is currently under an FA interim suspension from football,” the League Two (fourth tier) club said in a statement.
Gradi, 75, has been at Crewe for 33 years including 24 as manager.
The northwest club has been caught up in a growing scandal after their former youth coach and scout Barry Bennell was charged with eight historical sex offences against a 14-year-old boy.
The Independent newspaper this month reported that Gradi visited the parents of a Chelsea youth team player to “smooth over” a sexual abuse complaint against a scout when he was assistant manager at the London club in the 1970s.
“Having been notified by the Football Association on 25 November, I acknowledged my current interim suspension from football,” Gradi said in a statement.
“I would like to reiterate that I will do everything within my power to assist all investigatory authorities,” he added.
“As I have previously stated, aside from denying any wrongdoing it would be inappropriate and unfair on all parties to comment through the media at this time in connection with any allegations.”
Chelsea last week issued a public apology to former striker Gary Johnson for sexual abuse he suffered as a young player and said it had been wrong to insist on a confidentiality clause when paying him compensation.
Johnson, 57, revealed the day before that he had been abused by former Chelsea chief scout Eddie Heath in the 1970s, receiving 50,000 pounds ($63,265) from the club in settlement in 2015.
Police said this month that about 350 victims had come forward to report sexual abuse within soccer clubs across the country from the 1970s onwards and indicated the number was likely to rise.
The revelations of the attacks suffered by former professionals have raised fears that sexual predators had for years been using their roles at clubs to prey on young players.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond