OpinionSport

Should Evans be allowed to return to football?

5 Mins read

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By Jamie Ford

I’m sure that the vast majority would love to see Ched Evans’ footballing career fail to get back off the ground following his rape conviction. They’d rather see him handed some overalls, ready for his 8am start at a warehouse in Salford; drinking coffee out of mugs half washed because the trainee had used the Fairy Liquid trying to make a water slide and not being able to avoid rush hour because Gary the boss upstairs needed to pick his kids up from school and asked him to cover, all this just for a tender £7.50 an hour. That would be a nice punishment for Britain’s most talked about sportsman, wouldn’t it?

Unfortunately, after my social media news feeds bwere flooded with relentless arguments surrounding the right of the ex-Manchester City striker to continue in his profession; I realised that the key issue for those against is financial.

Let’s take the scenario above, this time assuming boss man Gary has hit the EuroMillions jackpot, invested it in his rather minuscule business and all of a sudden Ched has hit the big time, now being paid a crisp £25-£30 an hour, far-fetched? Yes, but if he was able to earn a wage elsewhere that mirrors what he could potentially be offered by a club like Oldham, the argument would be toned down purely because of the financial well being of Ched Evans.

There is of course the ‘what if’ argument regarding other professions, what if a teacher wanted to continue? What if a doctor wanted to go back into practice? Any point surrounding a lot of other professions are moot. There is no CRB check required for this man to strengthen a starting Eleven. Ultimately, he is no threat to anyone on that football pitch.

Naturally he is considered a role model, no footballer has a choice over the matter, however this man will inevitably be an alienated figure in the sport. He won’t be able to travel away to Tranmere Rovers and be given an easy ride.

I think the public against Evans’ return are picturing him receiving an MBE after firing home his first hatrick! Yes, perhaps these rules should be altered, and should his conviction be overturned then the green light should be given, but as it stands, he is even with the law, and he is even with the game.

The world of football is never going to fall in love with this man, no children are going to be allowed to sport ‘Evans’ on the back of their shirts, Rio Ferdinand is never going to tweet ‘get in there Ched old boy’ after scoring a last minute winner, he will never really be forgiven for his conviction, but the issue can be let go, and the dark cloud will forever hang over this player’s profile, whether he gets signed, or if this guy Gary actually exists.

Kitty Trice – LCC sports journalism student
He should, perhaps after a certain amount of time, I think he should pay more for what he did but everyone deserves a second chance.

Guido De Boer – LCC sports journalism student
Yes, if he want’s to play football and a club wants to sign him then he should be able to play.

[/tabs-content-group][tabs-content-group id=”two”]By Sean Coppack

There are plenty of reasons why I don’t believe Ched Evans has any place in professional football until such a time as he is no longer an unrepentant, convicted rapist.

Firstly, Evans was convicted of rape despite the fact that, according to figures released by the Ministry of Justice, while there 85,000 women and 12,000 men raped every year in the UK, there is an average of 1,070 convictions for rape annually. Evans is still on licence for his crime and will not have served his time until the license ends in 2017.

Debating the merits of a case on social media, a case that was decided by a jury, and is currently going through the appeals process is, in my opinion, extremely dangerous and only compounds the culture of shaming and persecuting the victims of rape that leads to so few cases being reported to police.

Football has long had an issue with marginalising women and has recently made attempts to try to right some of the wrongs of decades of dominant male leadership. Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s infamous president, and the most powerful person in the sport, famously chimed in with some suggestions on how to improve the appeal of women’s football in 2004: “Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball…They could, for example, have tighter shorts,” Blatter explained in his usual tactful manner.

I have seen several supporters of Evans citing the example of Luke McCormick, the Plymouth Argyle goalkeeper who was jailed for four years after killing two young children whilst drink driving but was able to return to a career in professional football after his release. The argument is that if he’s able to return to football, why isn’t Evans? The reality is, that the majority of people would agree that he shouldn’t have been able to return to a position of status within a community where he’d be considered a role model. The Ched Evans case is highlighting a complete lack of leadership from the PFA and the FA in providing a code of conduct which would reflect the status and the influence that professional footballers have,  and would avoid these grey areas and debates which not only damage the game but cause enormous friction within society as a whole.

The football community is very quick to use the phrase “role model” when it suits, when a footballer is having a positive effect within a community, or just behaving normally whilst producing good performances a player will be held up as a great example for kids to look up to.

The Evans case, however, has highlighted the hypocrisy within the game as pundits, managers and officials are appearing on the television to explain to the millions of people who lap up their product every weekend that footballers shouldn’t be considered role models as they are just playing a sport. These people can’t have their cake and eat it, the officials at the top of the game in the UK need to take control of the situation and send a message that convicted rapists will not be allowed in a game where the players are, like it or not, watched and idolised by millions.

Time will tell how this situation ultimately plays out, with the result of Evans appeal hearing likely to be pivotal in a potential return to professional footballer. Until then, I for one, see no place for Ched Evans in the sport.

Shan Randhawa – LCC sports journalism student
Fuck no! so can people commit a crime, serve half their sentence and go back to their job like it’s all okay?

Ashley Alexander-Birch – LCC sports journalism student
Absolutely not! One of the things that comes with being a professional footballer is being a role model and that is not a role model.

Max Petch – LCC sports journalism student
You can’t rape a woman and expect to go back into the game, I don’t think anyone’s going to sign him.

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