Sport Soccer

Wednesday 24 July 2019

Ex-Celtic coach Jim McCafferty who admitted to sexually abusing young players 'for a bit of fun' is arrested

In an extraordinary interview, former football coach Jim McCafferty, unburdoned his soul, confessing to commiting sexual acts with several young footballers when he was coaching junior teams in Scotland.
In an extraordinary interview, former football coach Jim McCafferty, unburdoned his soul, confessing to commiting sexual acts with several young footballers when he was coaching junior teams in Scotland.
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A former kitman for Celtic who is now living in Belfast has confessed to years of sexual abuse of young footballers - which he described as "a bit of fun, a bit of hilarity on that side".

Jim McCafferty who was a youth coach for Celtic, Hibs and Falkirk faces a police investigation now following his admission and was arrested in Belfast by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) after walking into a police station.

Detective Superintendent Deirdre Bones, from the PSNI's public protection branch, said: "A 71-year-old male has been arrested by detectives after presenting himself at a station in Belfast.

"He was arrested on suspicion of sexual offences against children in Northern Ireland. He is currently helping police with their inquiries."

In Scotland, police say they have received information about alleged historic offences and will investigate.

A police spokesman said: "Police Scotland has received a report of non-recent sexual abuse and will commence inquiries to establish the full circumstances surrounding this matter."

The 71-year-old from Wishaw, Lanarkshire admitted to the Daily Record he had "paedophile tendencies" in the 80s and 90s while coaching at West Lothian.

He has also admitted abusing young players at Celtic between 1990 and 1996.

McCafferty said he never raped boys but admitted sexually touching their private parts.

One of the young players that McCafferty has admitted to preying on, took his life more than 30 years later.

He described the abuse as "not going the whole way, but going some of the way."

He added: “I feel bad that I was involved in it. But at the time I was thinking to myself, if they didn’t want to be involved in it, nobody forced them.”

McCafferty claimed that his actions on one of the boys was to 'toughen him up' and said he saw it as his job to form the character of the boys.

He described it as "a bit of fun, a bit of hilarity on that side".

“The boys weren’t bad at football and I was trying to help them, to bring them to people’s attention, to take notice of them.”

One of the victims described how McCafferty had rubbed boot polish on one boy's private parts.

McCafferty said he wouldn't deny it happened.

"There’s that possibility it would have happened, yes.”

McCafferty would often strip naked and join the boys in the shower after the games.

He said at time he thought "no that's not right" and "common sense" would come to him, but he added: “Back then it was normal, run-of-the-mill stuff, just playing the game. After a home win the excitement would be heightened.”

He compared some of the scenes in the dressing rooms after wins to a "teenage orgy".

"Yes, that’s what it was like. It was a bit of fun and enjoyment for them to have, but as adults we should have used our brains and stepped in and stopped it.

“I’ve regretted it for years. It has haunted me and I’ve not had a good night’s sleep for a long time.

“Tonight, I feel unburdened.”

While McCafferty said what he did "to a certain extent" amounted to paedophilia - he denied grooming any boys.

He said that as a youth playing football in England he was subjected to the same thing that he later carried out on the young boys.

He said: “It happened to me. People would pull your ‘bobby’, as we called it, in those days.

“Most clubs, most players would have been involved. It was part of the game. Without a doubt there are stacks of managers who wouldn’t have, but there’s something different in the genes in me.”

McCafferty insists he never raped any of the boys and has offered to hand himself in to the PSNI for questioning.

He said: “No one has accused me of raping them but I cannot lie.

“There are things I’ve done and I have to accept that. But now this is about me drawing the line.

“I don’t want to hide anything. I have been haunted by what I did.

“I was lonely and the boys made me feel good. I wanted their company without a doubt, although the greatest interest was football.”

He added: “I understand it was wrong. I was wrong and I did wrong and I am sorry.

“I have remorse. I know if I’m found guilty I will have to serve time, and I’ve said to myself that’s what I’ll have to pay back for what I’ve done.

“I’m OK with that. I hope that will cleanse my soul.”

If you need someone to talk to, contact: Samaritans 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org

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