Bellamy responds after Cardiff admit 'unacceptable environment'
Written by Simon Austin — October 27, 2019
CRAIG BELLAMY has apologised “if I inadvertently offended anyone” after a Cardiff City investigation highlighted “a number of significant concerns relating to an unacceptable coaching environment” during his time at their Academy.
The investigation did not name specific individuals, but related to “accusations of bullying and abuse” by “current and former employees”.
It was launched after the parents of former Under-18 captain Alfie Madden accused Bellamy of bullying, saying he had discriminated against their son because he was English, as well as humiliating him in front of team-mates.
The former Wales international “categorically refuted” the allegations but stepped down from his role as Head of Player Development pending the results of the investigation. He was subsequently appointed U21 coach at Anderlecht in June, following the appointment of his former Manchester City team-mate Vincent Kompany as manager.
The investigation, commissioned “under the direction of Capital Law Ltd” and conducted by Cardiff City's Head of Safeguarding, Rob Cronick, “highlighted a number of significant concerns relating to an unacceptable coaching environment over the relevant period of time”.
In a statement, the Championship club added: "This was magnified due to the lack of effective safeguarding processes being followed. Cardiff regrets the impact this has had and any distress that may have been caused to those affected by the investigation process that has followed.”
The investigation report has been passed on to the club’s Board, the Premier League, the Football Association, the Football Association of Wales and “our statutory partners”, although it has not been made public, because it “continues to form part of an employee disciplinary process” and “the club is unable to publicly provide specific details of matters relating to individuals”.
This has been a common theme in recent Academy bullying case, with Arsenal, Newcastle and Aston Villa all refusing to publicly disclose their internal investigation reports.
After Cardiff released their statement, Bellamy subsequently issued one of his own. It has been reported as being an apology, but was really a non-apology, because the 40-year-old did not acknowledge an offence or failure.
Bellamy said: “If I inadvertently offended anyone then I am truly sorry. My love for coaching has not for a moment been diluted, but I accept the report highlighted aspects of my coaching skills that could perhaps be improved.
"I voluntarily removed myself from the Academy to allow the club to carry out the full and robust investigation.
"The allegations of bullying and xenophobic behaviour made against me were difficult for me to come to terms with as I deplore bullying and any form of discrimination.
"I am not the subject of any disciplinary proceedings which, of course, comes as an immense relief to me. Whilst I have always categorically denied and disputed the allegations against me, the whole process was still very difficult to deal with and has resulted in a long period of self-reflection.”
The Welshman also suggested problems had arisen because of “the sensitivities of a new generation of players”.
"I have probably relied too much on my own life experiences playing under some of the best coaches in the world rather than assessing the sensitivities of a new generation of players,” the former Newcastle, Liverpool and Manchester City forward said.
"I will continue to work hard as a coach and commit to undertake any recommended additional training. I will strive for continuous personal improvement and development to ensure I become the best coach that I can be."
Meanwhile, Cardiff City said “robust changes to procedures have subsequently been implemented and awareness of these issues will be reinforced for the protection of young players”.
"These plans and associated safeguarding education measures have been welcomed and endorsed by the associations and bodies referenced above. An independent audit of the Club’s safeguarding provision by Barnado’s in April 2019 confirmed that the club is compliant with the Premier League’s Safeguarding Standards.”