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Child abuse scandal reaches top of Brazilian football 



You can feel the history at Santos FC. The walls adorned with pictures of Pele, cabinets packed with trophies and a pitch so pristinely maintained, there’s no chance of stepping foot on it.

It is little wonder Andy Woodward’s journey helping authorities stamp out abuse in the sport has brought him here.

This prestigious football club is now at the centre of Brazil’s child sex abuse scandal.

Its soccer academy is in turmoil after a 19-year-old former youth player spoke out about suffering sexual abuse when he was just 11.

The man accused was still working at the club as coordinator of its youth academy. He is now suspended amid a sexual assault investigation that dates back to 2010.

“It is the tip of the iceberg definitely,” said Woodward – who was abused as a child by English paedophile football coach Barry Bennell.

Andy Woodward is in Brazil to help with the anti-abuse initiative
Andy Woodward is in Brazil to help with the anti-abuse initiative

“But this individual who’s come forward – we don’t know if it has or hasn’t happened – but if it’s proven then he’s an extremely brave person and could change this country in the future.”

:: The man who revealed abuse in English football helps young players in Brazil

Santos FC will not comment while the police investigation is under way but the escalating scandal is prompting a national conversation Brazil has not had before.

Valter Camello played for Palmeiras in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

We met him on the sidelines of a Santos youth players’ training session.

“They’ll be scared when they see a man in a suit,” he tells me. “They’ll think I’m an agent.”

Alexandre Montrimas' career ended after he spoke out about abuse

‘Abuse happening in every Brazil club’

Fear is a recurring subject when you speak to people here about football.

The sport has so much power. It is not just because becoming a player is every young boy’s dream but because an opportunity in a club can pull a child out of a slum and transform their lives.

Camello talked about abuse he saw and suffered nearly 40 years ago as a youth player.

The abuse came in all guises – sexual, psychological, racial.

He explained why he has never spoken about it before today: “A young poor black boy looking to make a career, against a coach who’s famous?

“Who would believe my word against his? I have never mentioned that to anybody. I’m 56 now. It happened when I was 18.”

Former Palmeiras player Valter Camello was abused as a youth player
Former Palmeiras footballer Valter Camello was abused as a youth player

Years later and little has changed. Poverty is rife and football is powerful. More than 11 million people live in Brazil’s slums, known as favelas. Crime there is high and life expectancy low.

Football scouts often recruit from some of these very poor areas.

We went to one of Sao Paulo’s biggest slums and saw children in the middle of a dirt football pitch surrounded by makeshift housing.

There was no ball, but they have found stones and a screwdriver and somehow we make a game.

When I say these children have nothing, it is not an exaggeration.

Boy in a favela
Many young children dream of getting out of the favela and becoming a footballer
Many aspiring footballers dream of getting out of the favela

A charity feeds 900 of the favela’s children each day – they say it is the only meal they will get.

They used to feed 1,500 children but due to a lack of funding they have had to stop meals for 600 children – a decision they called “heartbreaking”.

For children living in these conditions, if a football agent comes calling with a ticket out of there, a child – a family – will take it, not knowing what it might cost.

Most of Brazil’s clubs have hostels where their youth players live. Brazil is a huge country and many boys are given opportunities in clubs far away from home.

At Santos, the youngest players live in dorms beneath the stadium and the older teenagers in a house nearby.

Santos youth players
Santos youth players share dorms near the stadium

We saw the rooms which sleep three to four in bunk beds. For one of the country’s wealthier clubs, the dorms are still extremely basic but it is luxury compared to where many come from.

For vulnerable boys living in these hostels there is little protection from abuse.

The country’s extreme poverty means many would never speak, out for fear of losing the opportunity that has dragged them out of extreme poverty.

This is the immense challenge for authorities working to stamp out abuse.

The national obsession with the game and the country’s poverty has harboured decades of abuse – a dangerous cocktail that still exists in the sport today.

Woodward’s invitation to come to Brazil to assist the country’s campaign has added volume to the clamour to do more about abuse in the sport.

When he broke his story in November 2016, revealing six years of systematic abuse by coach Barry Bennell from the age of 10, it prompted hundreds more men to come forward with tales of abuse in English football.

It prompted a wave of disclosures about child abuse in sport worldwide.

In a statement responding to Sky News’ reports, governing body FIFA said: “FIFA considers the protection of children and young people as fundamental in football and in this regard recently joined the Council of Europe’s Start to Talk initiative…

“FIFA has also set up an expert working group to develop a safeguarding toolkit to support its member associations in adopting measures to protect children and vulnerable adults.”

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Joe Biden takes oath of office to become America’s 46th president | US News



Joe Biden has become the 46th president of the United States, after taking his oath of office in a heavily scaled back inauguration ceremony in Washington DC.

He swore to preserve, protect and defend America to the sound of cheers and applause from former presidents both Democrat and Republican – though Donald Trump decided to break precedent by skipping the event.

It came minutes after new Vice President Kamala Harris took her oath, too.

Biden’s inauguration – follow live updates

Air Force One
The outgoing president was whisked to Florida in Air Force One

Mr Biden stressed the fairness of last November’s election result in the opening of his inaugural address by declaring: “This is democracy’s day. The will of the people has been heard and the will of the people has been heeded.

“We’ve learned again that democracy is precious, democracy is fragile and at this hour my friends, democracy has prevailed.”

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers his speech after he was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Mr Biden delivered his inaugural address facing the National Mall

Mr Biden promised to “press forward with speed and urgency” during a “winter of peril” to tackle the “once-in-a-century virus that silently stalks the country”, also vowing to confront white supremacy and terrorism.

He stressed his prevailing focus after a divisive election campaign will be on “uniting our nation”, adding: “With unity, we can do great things, important things – we can right wrongs.”

And he said he wanted to “make America once again a leading force for good in the world”, seemingly in a snub to Mr Trump commenting: “Let’s start afresh… all of us.”

Inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States
President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris during the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Kamala Harris was also sworn in as the new US vice president

Mr Biden urged people to “join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature”, for, he explained, without unity there will be “no nation, only a state of chaos”.

Speaking as he looked out on to the National Mall lit by a bright sunshine, Mr Biden continued: “Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire destroying everything in its path.

First Lady Jill Biden places her hands on U.S. President Joe Biden during the 59th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2021. Kevin Dietsch/Pool via REUTERS
Dr Jill Biden celebrated with her husband

“Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war and we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured.”

Repeating a motif from his victory speeches in the days after winning the Electoral College vote, Mr Biden promised to be “a president for all Americans”.

Winding up his address, he struck an optimistic tone, saying: “Together we shall write an American story of hope not fear, of unity not division, of light not darkness.”

He ended with: “May God bless America and may God protect our troops, thank you America.”

President Joe Biden is congratulated by First lady Jill Biden, after being sworn-in during the inauguration. Pic: Patrick Semansky/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
The new first family will later head to the White House

Lady Gaga, wearing a large dove broach on her top and clasping a golden microphone, had just performed a rousing rendition of the national anthem – and Jennifer Lopez followed with an “American musical selection”.

Former presidents Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton attended the event at the Capitol – and Mr Biden was greeted by cheers and applause as he walked up to the stage.

Jennifer Lopez performs during the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid
Mike Pence, representing the outgoing administration, watched J-Lo’s performance

Mr Biden shared a fist-bump with Barack Obama before the pair took their seats, and then a series of speeches got underway – all sharing a theme of unity.

But as the new president prepared to take the oath of office, Donald Trump was landing in Florida.

Mr Trump is the first outgoing president since 1869 to skip an inauguration ceremony, but departing Vice President Mike Pence was in the audience.

As the inauguration ceremony took place in a chilly Washington DC, where it was trying to snow, the White House was getting a deep clean that was set to cost $500,000 (£366,000).

Shortly before the ceremony began, Mr Biden declared on Twitter: “It’s a new day in America.”

Mr Trump gave a parting message before boarding Air Force One, telling a small group of supporters and family members gathered on the tarmac of Joint Base Andrews that “we will be back in some form”.

“I wish the new administration great luck and great success,” he added, before boarding the plane, which took off to the booming soundtrack of Frank Sinatra’s My Way.

Mr Biden is only the second Catholic to hold the office of president.

His team have already announced he will sign a series of executive orders reversing several of Mr Trump’s policies, including on COVID-19, climate change and racial inequality.

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Australian Open: Novak Djokovic says he is not ‘selfish, difficult and ungrateful’ for quarantine requests | World News



Tennis star Novak Djokovic has insisted he was not being “selfish, difficult and ungrateful” after making a list of requests for players in quarantine ahead of the Australian Open.

The men’s world number one reportedly sent a letter to Australian officials asking for a reduction in the time players spend in isolation, permission to see coaches and for athletes to be moved to private houses.

His suggestions were firmly rebuffed by Victoria’s premier Daniel Andrews, who said: “People are free to provide lists of demands, but the answer is no… There’s no special treatment here.”

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State premier lays down law to tennis stars

A total of 72 players are in quarantine after 10 people who flew to Melbourne for the first Grand Slam of the year tested positive for coronavirus – leaving many forced to train in their hotel rooms.

Djokovic has since defended speaking out about the quarantine conditions, writing in a lengthy social media post: “My good intentions for my fellow competitors in Melbourne have been misconstrued as being selfish, difficult and ungrateful.

“This couldn’t be farther from the truth.”

He said his email exchange regarding suggestions for the quarantine conditions was an “opportunity to brainstorm” and he was “aware that the chances were low that any of our suggestions would be accepted”.

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“There were a few suggestions and ideas that I gathered from other players from our chat group and there was no harm intended to try and help,” he said.

While many players are under the strictest quarantine conditions and unable to leave their rooms, others who were not on the affected flights – including Djokovic – are able to train outside for five hours a day under COVID-secure protocols.

The men's world number one smiles from his balcony while in quarantine
The men’s world number one smiles from his balcony while in quarantine

The star player said he wanted to use his “position of privilege” to help others.

“I’ve earned my privileges the hard way and for that reason it is very difficult for me to be a mere onlooker knowing how much every help, gesture and good word mattered to me when I was small and insignificant in the world pecking order,” he said.

He added: “Things in the media escalated and there was a general impression that the players (including myself) are ungrateful, weak and selfish because of their unpleasant feelings in quarantine.

“I am very sorry that it has come that because I do know how grateful many are.”

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Quarantined tennis stars train in hotel rooms

Going ahead with the tournament amid the global pandemic and harsh restrictions in Melbourne has caused some controversy, particularly as many Australians remain stuck overseas.

Three new coronavirus cases related to the tournament were reported on Wednesday, including a player who has been in hard lockdown since they arrived.

The second case related to another player and the third is a support person with the player.

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Madrid: ‘Extremely loud’ explosion in city centre – reports of injuries | World News



An “extremely loud” explosion has been reported in Madrid’s city centre – with rescue teams, firefighters and police sent to the scene.

Spanish media reports said the explosion took place in a building near a nursing home – and videos and images shared on social media showed rubble scattered in the street.

“We didn’t know where the sound came from. We all thought it was from the school. We went up the stairs to the top of our building and we could see the structure of the building and lots of grey smoke,” a witness told the AP news agency.

The explosion happened in Toledo street. Video on social media showed a number of wrecked cars and debris strewn in the road.

According to TVE, several people have been hurt, while Telemadrid is reporting that at least one person is trapped.

Emergency services could not immediately confirm if there had been injuries.

A police spokeswoman said the area was being evacuated but could not confirm the cause of the explosion.

Government sources have been quoted by Spanish media as saying it may have been a gas leak.

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