Ched Evans should not be allowed to return to the Sheffield United football pitch

A convicted rapist should not be allowed back into a position which allows them to be idolised by an adoring public

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The Independent Online

The life of a footballer must be pretty sweet. You get paid big bucks to play your favourite sport and fans fawn over you – you become a hero.

You’d think such status would be reserved for the best, in all aspects. The best players, the best team mates, the best of character. But it would seem that is not the case.

Step forward Ched Evans. Since his release from prison last month, after serving two years for rape, it’s been questioned whether or not he’ll be allowed to return to his former team, Sheffield United, to play as striker.

Yesterday, it emerged that SUFC have allowed Evans to take part in training with the team, presumably with the intention of inviting him back onto the team at some stage in the future.

This is not something that should happen. Ched Evans should not be allowed back to Sheffield United, nor any other professional football team for that matter. A convicted rapist should not be allowed back into a position which allows them to be idolised by an adoring public, no less a position which presents him as a role model for children and young people.

It’s been argued that Evans has been rehabilitated, and therefore should be allowed to return back to society, but I question whether this is true. In a statement he made with girlfriend Natasha Massey shortly after his release he apologised for what he’d done – but only so much in that by ‘having sex’ with his victim, he’d cheated on his long-term girlfriend. He still vehemently denies that he raped the woman. This begs the question - can he be truly rehabilitated if he won’t even admit what he’s done?

It is an insult that Evan’s victim has had to change her name, twice, after being identified and abused by fans of the convict. She has had to move away from her family to get away from the malice she faced by coming forward about the attack. Meanwhile, Ched gets picked up in a luxury 4x4 and driven to a house where his loving girlfriend, is waiting, and now will be walking back onto the pitch to play the sport he loves.

The fact is, we live in a society that favours the rapist over their victim. Currently, the onus is on women to change their behaviour in order to ‘protect’ themselves from rape. We are constantly told to not get so drunk, not to wear revealing outfits, not to walk home in the dark alone, and not to wear headphones. We shouldn’t leave our drinks unattended, or get into an unmarked cab. The list is endless.

It is exhausting, and there is much that needs to be done. But until we can improve conviction rates on rape and sexual assault, improve the justice system to favour victims rather than attackers, we shouldn’t allow men who have sexually assaulted women to sit in a part of society where they will be looked upon in celebration. Ched Evans should not be allowed to play at Sheffield.