There has been a rumbling row for a while about Sheffield United footballer Ched Evans. He was found guilty of rape and has served his time, but now many people say he should not be able to resume his career as a professional footballer.
This is based on the idea that being a footballer is a privilege, and makes him a role model, and that by committing such a vile offence he has lost that privilege. His crime was indeed despicable, but as a female football fan, I think he should be allowed to go back to playing.
If I were a Sheffield United fan I wouldn’t want his name on my replica shirt but, having served the time, Evans does have the right to reintegrate and begin working again. What use is rehabilitation and prison otherwise?
If people think it’s going to be a luxury for Evans to return to football, they can rest assured he will have a horrible time from opposition fans for the rest of his playing days.
I watched Jermaine Pennant play for Birmingham City against Tottenham, having just been released from prison – albeit for a lesser offence – with an electronic tag on his ankle. Lee Bowyer played for Leeds United while he was on trial for alleged racist assault, for which he was ultimately cleared. In the same case, his team mate Jonathan Woodgate was found guilty of affray, and resumed playing soon after serving 100 hours of community service for his crimes.
We should be pleased that Ched Evans has been punished, as too often the perpetrators of rape and sexual assault are not.