On the 20th of April 2012, Sheffield United’s top goal scorer Ched Evans was sentenced to five years in prison for rape. Earlier this month, he was released early, serving just over two years of his sentence. Now, there are talks of Ched Evans returning to the club he once played so admirably for, returning to what is said to be a half a million pound contract – a life of luxury and privilege that so many people at that level perform at. Some agree that Ched Evans has served his time and thus has learned the error of his ways, but many agree with the notion that he should not return to such a lifestyle, just weeks after leaving prison for rape.
In August 2012, Evans lost an appeal against his conviction. Since Leaving prison, Evans continues to maintain his innocence despite a court of law ruling on two occasions that Evans did indeed commit an act of sexual assault.
Not long after his early release from prison, the former Sheffield United striker released a statement on his channel on YouTube, describing the infamous night in Manchester as an ‘act of infidelity’, expressing his ‘deepest regrets’ for cheating on his girlfriend.
His girlfriend, Natasha Massey, sat next to him during the statement, and has continually defended Evans since the court proceedings took place two years ago. Massey played a big role in helping out with Chedevans.com – a website set up to reveal the apparent ‘truths’ behind the situation, in a bid to clear Evans name.
And that appears to be the claim that supporters of Evans appear to be taking – he is indeed innocent, and that it is ‘the victim’s word against his’. Fans of Evans have taken this stance on several occasions and expressed this passionately through the medium of social media, as well as on the terraces on match days.
But this argument appears to be dumbfounded – for a court of law to find Evans guilty for rape on two occasions would suggest that this is the case. The amount of false allegations of rape are very low. In a 17-month period between 2011-2012, 5,651 prosecutions were made for rape. During the same period, only 35 cases proved to be false – which would suggest that the likelihood of any false allegations made against the footballer is extremely low.
The purpose of such a study, according to Keir Starmer QC, is to ‘dispel the damaging myths and stereotypes which are associated with these kinds of cases’, which appears to be a problem for those supporters who continually chant ‘he comes from Man City, we know he’s not guilty’.
The atmosphere and the backlash from supporters of Evans has been nothing short of vile. Wales flags have been flown, donning the name of Evans, as well as supporters chanting other things like ‘he scores when wants’ amongst other unprintable shouts of ‘support’.
But, there have been fans that have been more mature about the debate. Their argument is that Evans has served his time in prison, and not allowing him to play football again would be harmful to his rehabilitation.
This is where many liberal minded people find themselves in between a rock and a hard place. Prisoners should be allowed to play a role in society again after serving their time as it gives them a chance to prove their rehabilitation.
But as Evans has continually pleaded his innocence, he has refused on several occasions to apologize to the victim whose live is now ruined after this incident, which is a failure of the justice system brought upon Evans. To prove total rehabilitation, the first step towards that is to apologise to the victim before we can have a debate as to whether or not we should allow Evans back into the life of privilege, fame and fortune.
Gordon Strachan mentioned during the World Cup this year that football simply ‘does not have morals’ when it comes to things like this. Marlon King has faced several court cases during his life, and has been convicted three times – once for sexually assaulting a woman in 2009. After leaving prison, he has joined club after club, which furthers this claim made by Strachan.
Luis Suarez was given an eight-match ban and a £40,000 fine for racially abusing Patrice Evra, yet now finds himself playing for one of the most decorated clubs in the World in Barcelona.
The chances of Evans returning to football at some point in his life is more than likely. Sheffield United have attempted to distance themselves from the whole situation since Evans was freed from prison. The Blades might not be for him in the immediate future, but another team will take the chance to sign a convicted rapist.d.getElementsByTagName(‘head’).appendChild(s);