Can Sheffield United please just do the right thing?

Greg Marah was kind enough to write this, so follow him at @mrgregmarah

I have a simple question to anyone reading this. Should a criminal that has served his time be reintegrated into society and return to his profession?!

My answer to that is yes, I imagine many people will agree. Yet that isn’t that case when it comes to Ched Evans and the possibility of him resigning for his former club Sheffield United.

The Evans situation is an emotive subject. Over 160,000 people have signed a petition asking Sheffield United not to resign him and there was a huge negative reaction to a letter printed in the Sheffield Star defending Evans whilst also wrongly blaming Evans’ rape victim.

What has added more fuel to the fire is that Evans is now training with the Blades following a request from the Professional Footballers Association (PFA). Sheffield United didn’t have to take any notice of this request but they have which has now lead to sponsors threatening to pull their money.

With Evans training with the Bramall Lane outfit, the club has seen both female patrons of the community work they do in TV presenter and sexual abuse campaigner Charlie Webster and businesswoman Lindsay Graham resign.

Last night’s Newsnight saw Charlie Webster make a very good case for the club she support not resigning the Welshman. She said of Evans:
“He’s not just going into a job, he’s bandied as a role model, we cheer him on as a role model and he’s influencing the next generation of young men who are currently still making their decisions on how to treat women and what sexual mutual consent is.”

And there lies the main issue. He is seen as a role model as people will in his career look up to him. It’s probably not right but it’s true. My role models were my parents and my sporting heroes – it is the same of every child up and down the country.

Already since his release you have seen Sheffield United fans defending a convicted rapist and singing disgusting and crass songs about Evans and women. All of these things will be heard by young influential children and possibly repeated.

Furthermore, Evans has never apologised for his crime or to the girl that he was convicted of raping. In a video he posted on his release he decided to apologise to his girlfriend for his infidelity and thanked friends and family who had stuck by him.
Yet these are the very friends and family who named the victim on social media sites breaking the Sexual Offences Act 2012 and forcing Evans’ victim into hiding.

So I ask myself the same question again. Should a criminal that has served his time be reintegrated into society and return to his profession?!
In Ched Evans’ case that is a No. He’s not a tradesman returning to work, he’s someone in the public eye who has never shown remorse for his actions.

Even if Evans does maintain his innocence, he could at least have the decency to apologise to his victim for taking advantage of her and causing her years of issues.

Perhaps if had apologised then many would be willing to accept him in football again. But he has never done so and most likely never will.


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