Ched Evans: Is It Time For Football To Take Its Moral Responsibility More Seriously?

Ched-Evans

Francis Comberti on the controversial case of Ched Evans and questions, not necessarily whether he should play again, but whether the football authorities owe it to the fans to take more of a moral stance.

The world of football generates vast sums of money and as such does not like to deal with controversial issues…

The world of football generates vast sums of money and as such does not like to deal with controversial issues that might disrupt the status quo. For example, ex-Sheffield United player Ched Evans has been convicted as a rapist, and yet the PFA have continually stated that they openly support him and any club that wants to sign him.

Whether the PFA thinks he is innocent or that he deserves to pick up his life and career where he left off is irrelevant.

Whether the PFA thinks he is innocent or that he deserves to pick up his life and career where he left off is irrelevant. He was convicted and is on the Sex Offender Register for life. A tiny number — between six and seven percent  of all reported rapes end in conviction; there’s no question that Ched Evans was found guilty of rape, just a question about whether he will ever be able to accept it. It is football’s responsibility to ensure that fans understand the severity of his actions.

Football does not exist in a moral vacuum. In order to see the sport made fairer and more inclusive, those who work within the game have to address and challenge abuses of power.

They question the definition of rape and act as though they know better than the judicial system…

As of 2015, the Ched Evans rollercoaster continues. Not only were Oldham Athletic thinking of signing him after months of other clubs doing the same and then hesitantly distancing themselves from the media frenzy, the club publicly stated that it believes he is innocent. Football still cannot bring itself to send fans and aspiring footballers this simple message: if you’re convicted of rape, you’ve lost your chance.

Ched Evans maintains his innocence. Even people in the footballing world, who have nothing to gain from getting involved, back him up. They question the definition of rape and act as though they know better than the judicial system and those working every day to tackle rape culture in our society, such as blogger and petition starter Jean Hatchet, journalist Hadley Freeman, and organisations such as Women Against Rape (WAR). If Ched Evans gets to return to the public eye and work within the community, then I think his jail term will have been for nothing.

Football does not exist in a moral vacuum.

Football clubs need to be taught about the damages of rape culture and violence against women and girls. Widespread re-education, that ends victim blaming and teaches consent, will help to change the way rape is viewed and convicted rapists are dealt with. Throughout the Evans saga, the FA have remained silent — only last week was it made clear that they were powerless to make a decision on Ched Evans’ sporting career. As the General Medical Council, the Metropolitan Police, or a Law Society have the power to dismiss, so the FA must act on the idea to implement new rules that ban those on the Sex Offender Register from returning to the public arena of football.

One of the main problems is the way boards at various clubs have reacted to Ched Evans’ case.

One of the main problems is the way boards at various clubs have reacted to Ched Evans’ case. Sheffield United and Oldham Athletic seemed oblivious to public outcry when they chose to affiliate themselves with him. The fact that he was sentenced for rape would have been no reflection on these clubs had they not lacked the understanding and the foresight to swiftly reject any association with a convicted rapist.

We know that football doesn’t want to have to answer for itself by engaging with ethics. If Luis Suarez had bitten someone in his spare time over the summer, away from the watchful eyes of millions, he would have been given a more lenient punishment. His actions were a threat to business as opposed to a threat to ethics.

We know that football doesn’t want to have to answer for itself by engaging with ethics.

Football is comprised of people — and even if the majority of its influential leaders are straight, white, and male, even if its role models earn thousands of pounds a week, even if every miniscule movement and decision is given reams of press coverage, they all have the responsibility to confront and condemn issues that surface.

If football wants to be a bastion of opportunity, it has to look outwards and inwards. I won’t give up on it. I’ll continue to watch the games and hope the authorities make their standpoints more and more resolute.

As this news story is still unfolding, all attempts were made to ensure that information was correct at time of publishing. 

Related Links:

‘Why Are We So Unwilling To Recognise Rape Culture?’ by Zahra Wynne

‘We Need To Talk About Gender And The Media’ by Nat Jester

What do you think? Should Ched Evans be allowed to play professional football? Should the FA impose stricter guidelines for how to deal with such cases going forward. Let us know: @rifemag

Any opinion expressed is that of the journalist and does not necessarily reflect that of Rife magazine or its affiliates.

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