Charlie Webster praises Sheffield United for doing the 'right thing' over Ched Evans

The club was forced to retract its offer to allow the footballer to train at its Sheffield grounds

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The Independent Online

Charlie Webster has shown her support for Sheffield United’s decision to stop Ched Evans from training at the club, following widespread public backlash.

The Sky Sports presenter resigned as United patron, after the club allowed the footballer and convicted rapist to re-begin training. Evans was freed in October, after serving half of his five-year sentence for rape.

Webster said on Twitter that the team had done “the right thing” for the fans, the club, the community and Evans’ victim.

In January, she revealed that she was the victim of sexual abuse as a teenager and that month embarked on a 250-mile, seven-day run between 40 football grounds for the charity Women's Aid.

Rape Crisis also issued a statement regarding the “long-awaited announcement”. An online petition protesting against his return was signed by 165,000.

“It suggests that the club has absorbed the strength of public opinion, reflected on its responsibilities towards the huge numbers of sexual violence survivors who will inevitably be among its fan base, and ultimately employed some common sense,” read the statement.

“The extended period of interest in this news story has fuelled significant, high profile debate around issues related to sexual violence, which is something Rape Crisis generally encourages.”

However, the charity noted that the publicity had also “undoubtedly highlighted the extent to which damaging, often misogynistic and victim-blaming, myths and misinformation are still all too common” and that more work needs to be done in preventing such misunderstanding of sexual violence.

Numerous high-profile names have joined the debate surrounding Evans’ reinstatement, including Nick Clegg and Jessica Ennis-Hill – the latter of whom said that she’d want her name to removed from a United stand if the footballer was rehired at the club.

She later received rape threats on social media over her standing – an act Rape Crisis described as “particularly disturbing”.

“These personal attacks and campaigns of harassment have made the words and actions of Jean Hatchet, Charlie Webster, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Paul Heaton and other women and men from a range of backgrounds and fields all the more laudable; Rape Crisis thanks and salutes these strong and principled individuals,” said the charity.

“It is heartening that not only those, like Rape Crisis, who know first-hand the devastating and often life-long impacts of sexual violence have chosen to take a stand on this issue, but people too from across the worlds of sport and media.”