Ched Evans has failed yet again to gain a contract at one of England’s Football League clubs. Oldham Athletic’s board today backed out of negotiations, presumably due to pressure from sponsors and fans – it seems clear to me that this is the right decision for football but what isn’t clear is why there is so much support for Ched Evans to return to the ‘beautiful game’.
Of course, there is a band of loyal Ched Evans fans who like himself protest his innocence at every opportunity, and to an extent it’s perfectly fine to hold that opinion. But when, it comes to making decisions about his future, it simply isn’t. If Ched Evans is innocent then he can appeal to the courts and amend it legally, but for now he is a convicted rapist. He was found to be guilty by a jury of people with far more knowledge of the case than the vast majority of us, so really we are powerless to submit to their superior knowledge on the matter – let’s face it, a conspiracy theory can be floated about literally anything. It’s for this reason that this post will continue to consider Ched Evans a rapist until it is proven otherwise.
Then there are those who dispute the classification of rape. For reasons I’ve already explained, I won’t delve too far in to the intricacies of the case but sex with someone who doesn’t consent is rape, not just somebody who says ‘no’. Some people have even cited instances of other convicted footballers returning to their playing careers, like Lee Hughes, as reasons for Ched Evans to do the same. Does that really make it right? Just because someone has made an error in judgement previously we should do the same again? That is no sort of logic, it’s immature and puerile.
Other myths surrounding Evans’ case have too arisen as attempts to ‘debunk’ those fighting against his return to football are coming under fire online. Ched Evans has not completed his punishment, his five-year sentence is only half-way complete, meaning currently he’s on license. He is out of prison but he doesn’t currently have the freedoms of the average Briton and won’t do for some time either.
It’s important to make this clear too; Ched Evans should be rehabilitated. But our definitions of restorative justice need to be defied. Rehabilitation does not mean picking up where you left off. Rape is a callous, corrupting and serious crime, and for that reason an offender cannot presume to strut back in to a comfortable existence once released from prison – his victim has been afforded no such scenario and she is the victim of this crime, not Ched Evans. He hasn’t had to move homes and change identities five times because he was deemed to have been sexually attacked. Why we’re on this subject, should Ian Watkins be handed a record deal when he leaves prison? Should we grant Rolf Harris his own talk show on release? Ched should be able to resume his life but not from the lofty heights from which he fell, there’s a ladder to climb, and like offenders from every areas of work, he has to start at the bottom.
Rape is not a crime that should ever be curtailed. Regardless of what we, as outsiders to the trial have surmised, he was found guilty of rape. That is the simple fact. Now, having been freed from prison having served half of his short sentence, he should be able to go about his life. But that does not entitle him to a career in football. People are grumbling about the alleged ‘bias’ against Ched Evans because he’s a footballer but that’s actually the opposite of what is being displayed. Any other position in the country that commands that wage, influence or effect on children would not be left vacant for a convicted criminal of such a revolting crime – in fact even football stewards wouldn’t be allowed by law to return to their job if found guilty of rape, why should footballers? Ched Evans has no lawful nor ethical right to waltz back in to a cushy lifestyle. In the eyes of jury, he forfeited that when he was adjudicated to have violated another person against their will. In truth, this is indicative of a larger problem in football where there are no holds barred. For some, homophobia, racism, sexism and now rape are acceptable in the morally bankrupt world of football. Maybe our game isn’t so ‘beautiful’ after all.