The conclusions from our probe into every local authority in England and Wales are disturbing.
Swimming, martial arts, rugby and gymnastics are the four sports worst affected after football, followed by tennis, cricket and athletics.
Parents will be horrified to learn that local authorities received the equivalent of one report of abuse EVERY DAYbetween 2012 and 2016.
More than half of these allegations were sexual. The remaining cases concern maltreatment such as physical and emotional abuse and neglect.
Ex-golfer Chris Unsworth, director of the Offside Trust which was set up by Chris and other sport sex abuse victims including footballer Andy Woodward, said: “It is shocking that the public has been kept in the dark about the scale of this problem.”
Last night children’s charity the NSPCC said our horrific findings proved that urgent action is needed to beef up Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks.
The charity wants to close two alarming loopholes that allow perverts to infiltrate sports clubs.
Offenders could lawfully have sex with 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds in their clubs because trust laws do not extend to sports coaches or youth leaders. Clubs can find out if a potential recruit is legally barred from working with children only if that person will be working unsupervised.
This means convicted sex offenders are able to get in by taking up assistant or support roles.
The Sunday People asked all 174 local authorities in England and Wales for details of allegations involving abuse of children at sports clubs.
Three-quarters of the councils responded.
And according to our stats obtained under Freedom of Information laws, they dealt with 1,881 reports over five years.
That figure could be as high as 2,500 if it includes the 46 local authorities that didn’t respond.
In two appalling cases in WEST SUSSEXa six-year-old child was sexually abused at a swimming club and multiple victims aged between six and 15 were abused at a gym. The offenders were prosecuted.
In DURHAMa tennis coach was sacked for sexual abusing and grooming a child. In POOLE, DORSET, a lifeguard was dismissed for abusing a 12-year-old boy.
Also in Poole, girls aged between 15 and 18 were sexually abused at a hockey and cricket club. The offender was sacked and convicted.
Other cases across the country included a paedophile being sacked from a karate club in OXFORDSHIREfor sexually abusing a teen and a pervert at a swim club in BERKSHIRE being convicted of having indecent images.
BRISTOL city council dealt with a case involving children aged between ten and 15 who were sexually abused at a football club. Their abuser was convicted. In another case involving football, a paedophile was sacked from a club in SWANSEA following allegations of sexual abuse.
In theLONDONborough of Tower Hamlets, claims that a 16-year-old was sexually groomed at a judo club were referred to the sport’s governing body.
In LINCOLNSHIREa paedophile who preyed on under 16s at a rugby club was jailed.
In BUCKINGHAMSHIREa swimming coach was sacked for sexually abusing an 11-year-old child.
Our investigation comes after the world of football was plunged into scandal last November with a series of former professionals revealing they were sexually abused as youth players.
The first to waive his right to anonymity was former Crewe, Bury and Sheffield United player Andy Woodward, 43.
After he spoke out, several other footballers followed suit, including former England and Tottenham midfielder Paul Stewart, 52, and ex-Manchester City striker David White, 49.
But the Sunday People investigation using local authority records shows the scandal stretches across virtually every sport.
Offside Trust boss and former victim Chris Unsworth said: “Too often we have been told that our horrific experiences could not be repeated today.
“But these new revelations prove that we must do more to keep our children safe.”
Chris added that it was likely our figures represent only the tip of the iceberg as many victims will not have spoken to the authorities.
A spokesman for the NSPCC, which is fighting to close loopholes in the checking system, said: “We want the Government to extend trust laws – which do not apply to sports coaches or other youth leaders – so they cannot lawfully have sex with 16 and 17-year-olds in their care.”
Under child protection laws every council must have a designated officer to co-ordinate the response to fears that an adult working with children may have caused harm.
All allegations that come to the attention of an employer or made directly to the police must be immediately reported to the designated officer.
Chief Constable Simon Bailey, the police chiefs’ head of child protection, said: “We urge anyone who may have been a victim of child sexual abuse to report it by dialling 101 or contacting the NSPCC helpline, regardless of how long ago the abuse may have taken place.
“We can guarantee that we will listen and treat all reports sensitively and seriously.”