Following Oldham Athletic’s decision to pull out of signing convicted rapist Ched Evans, Exeposé Sport and friends discuss whether the former Sheffield United striker deserves a second chance and a return to professional football.
James Beeson- Sport Editor
The way I understand the events that transpired which led to Ched Evans being sentenced to five years in prison for the rape of a 19 year-old woman is thus: Evans freely admits to having watched his friend have sex with a woman in a hotel room, and then having sex with her himself, despite being fully aware of her intoxicated state at the time. Evans then ‘escaped’ the hotel via a fire escape the following morning.
To me, and to the law as well, this makes Evans guilty of rape. However, in the eyes of Evans, and his supporters, it does not. Fine, but until Evans finishes his full sentence (and no, two and a half years of a five year sentence is not a sentence completed), or has his conviction overturned, he remains a convicted rapist, and cannot be allowed to return to the game
My major problem with Ched Evans returning to football is simple: he has failed to show an ounce of remorse for what he has done. Regardless of whether Evans thinks he is guilty or not, before he is allowed to be rehabilitated and resume a normal life, he must apologise for his actions. And I’m talking about a sincere and genuine apology to his victim, not the embarrassment of an apology to his girlfriend that appeared on The Daily Mail, or the ambiguous expression of regret “for the effects that night in Rhyl has had on many people” in The Guardian.
Evans must say sorry, firstly for his actions, and secondly for the actions of his sup-porters, who made the life of his victim so unbearable that she had to relocate and change her identity five times. He must stop protesting innocence and accept what he has done. Only then can he be reintegrated into society.
As things stand, the former Sheffield United striker has shown no grasp of the meaning of the term ‘consent’, or the severity of his actions, and hence is a long way from any kind of rehabilitation, and even further from deserving a second chance in the game.
Sophy Coombes-Roberts: Sport Editor
It is an understatement to say I was appalled when Oldham announced their signing of convicted rapist Ched Evans was 80 per cent confirmed. Despite the 160,000 person strong campaign against his hiring, realistically it was only after a surge of death threats that the club finallly put the matter to bed.
Although Evans still remains jobless, the problem lies in the fact that both Oldham and Sheffield seemed initially happy to sign him before their sponsors and the public pressured them out of it. Ched Evans is a convicted rapist; he sexually assaulted an almost unconscious woman and ruined her life.
Admittedly, the law states that after serving jail time he is allowed to return to whatever job he wishes. However, if he was a lawyer, physio, medic, academic or businessman, there is no chance he would be rein-stated back into his old job – so why does football think it is above everyone else?
The average convicted rapist finds work in manual labour, retail or administration often on minimum wage. Were Evans to return to football, it is not unreasonable to assume he would earn over £10,000 per week and pick up life where he left off. His return to football would send out the message to young football fans that rape and crime is permissible, as you will get a second chance.
I am not saying he should never be allowed to do anything again. Of course he should integrate back into society and contribute, but he gave up his right to work as a carefree footballer on £20,000 a week, when he raped a 19 year-old woman.
Freddie Turner- Online Sport Editor
The crime that Ched Evans has been found guilty of committing cannot be defended. It was a deplorable act and he was given a fitting punishment. However, having served the custodial part of his sentence the parole board has seen fit that he sees out the remaining two and a half years under licence in the community, albeit being a registered sex offender indefinitely.
The major premise of the argument against his return, is that his job as a footballer propels him into the limelight and he may be considered a role model. However, I see no reason why all or any footballers have to be considered role models, away from their on field exploits. I personally do not consider footballers to be role models. Indeed, if they are now considered our moral compass then it does not bode well for the future of our society.
Aside from this, there is no other reason why it is dangerous for Evans to return to football, a male dominated sport with limited direct access to the public. Yes, a convicted thief cannot be a bank clerk, nor a paedophile a teacher, but this is not the case here.
Some have said he ought to stack shelves or undertake low paid factory work but why should his criminal record affect his pay level? If we support the rehabilitation and reintegration of criminals, then is it not hypocritical to reduce them to only the lowest paid jobs?
What is for certain is that the longer the argument persists, the more attention this case will garner. This cannot be positive, with people rushing to Ched Evans’s defence and belittling his crime. His return to the third/fourth tier of English football will not thrust him to the forefront of sporting news and all the negative publicity will hopefully subside.
Will Brookes- Head of Sport Xpression FM
CRIME, punishment and rehabilitation. Legally, Ched Evans has been through the first two stages and is entitled to the third. Whether a club should offer him that chance, however, is morally questionable.
Football is to some extent amoral. Evans will find another club should he choose to continue his footballing career. At some level a club will think it worth the backlash for the potential benefit of having him score goals. Footballers returning to the game following a jail sentence is not new. Plymouth goalkeeper Luke McCormick spent four years in prison for causing death by dangerous driving in 2008 and successfully found a club upon release.
This rehabilitation does come at a cost. In last year’s Devon Derby I stood with 4,000 fans who chanted ‘murderer’ at the keeper every time he touched the ball. A chilling moment.
If Evans is to return then he will have to be mentally strong, with not a game going by where he is not reminded of the horrendous act which he committed. I do think both pro and anti-Evans groups have taken mob rule too far. Death threats to Oldham staff are appalling but so is the victim blaming for his crime that his supporters have undertaken.
Would I want Evans at my club? No, and I support any fan’s right to protest against his potentially signing for their team. If a club does choose to take him on, then should he show contrition and remorse for his crime, he should be given the chance to rehabilitate and will hopefully help others avoid making his mistakes in the future.
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