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Gradi retires 3 years after suspension during abuse scandal

CREWE, England (AP) — One of the longest-serving managers in English soccer has announced his retirement, three years after he was suspended by the Football Association while it conducted an investigation into a sex-abuse scandal.

Dario Gradi was manager of northwest club Crewe Alexandra in England's lower leagues from 1983-2007 before moving into a position as technical director. Gradi, who is 78, was suspended as a director in 2016 — preventing him from taking part in any football-related activities — without a cause being given.

The Milan-born Gradi was criticized for failing to stop Chelsea's then-chief scout, the late Eddie Heath, abusing children when both were working at the London club in the early 1970s. He also denied any knowledge of the sexual abuse carried out by Barry Bennell , a youth coach at Crewe in the 1980s who was hired by Gradi.

Bennell was jailed for 30 years in 2018 after being convicted of 50 child sexual offenses committed between 1979 and 1991 on 12 young footballers. Gradi has not been accused of any offenses. Gradi was awarded the MBE in 1998 for his services to football and was honored by the English Football League in 2011 for his "outstanding contribution to league football."

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