Wales are short of a centre forward and a pretty useful one has just become available. A sportsman that one presumes is in good condition due to some work as a part time PT instructor, albeit between prison walls, and one genuinely keen to re-establish himself within the game. Great timing? If only, as recent media reports prove, the road back to normality is going to be a long one for Ched Evans.
Evans was convicted of rape on 20th April 2012 and sentenced to 5 years in prison, on 17 October 2014 he was released and clear to pursue life as a free man. Prior to his release there had been a petition with over 100,000 signatures released urging his last club Sheffield United not to re-employ him. A counter petition received only a small fraction of signatures, putting the club and any other interested club in a difficult and awkward position.
The decision to bring back Ched (who maintains his innocence) into the Welsh squad isn’t a footballing one or a legal one; it is in essence a moral issue. A fit and free scoring Ched Evans would almost certainly be a player that Chris Coleman would be happy to have as a striking option, as would a vast majority of clubs within the football league. It is however the unavoidable moralistic issue which is what will determine whether Evans is allowed to continue as a professional footballer or whether he is forced to seek alternative employment.
Perceiving the facts it’s fairly clear that Ched’s behaviour on the night in question wasn’t the type of behaviour that instantly endears you to him. Unless that is you are one of the small percentage of gurning yobs who chanted “he shags who he wants” at Sheffield United last weekend. Undoubtedly a pint or two has been raised to the ‘bad lad’ and he probably has a cult status within certain bars around Sheffield. His decision however to go back to a hotel room and have sex with an unknown girl who had just seconds before been “made love to” by another man wouldn’t be likely to earn him the respect of the populate.
But again and only by reviewing the facts it’s not too difficult to have a mild degree of sympathy for him. As yes he did inexcusably cheat on a girlfriend who has subsequently stood by him, but to label him a typical rapist and for him to receive the amount of destructive press from many womens’ groups seems, on the surface a little excessive. In Ched’s defence there was never any sign of force or struggle from the victim (we have to call her a victim as Evans is still a convicted rapist), she even and to put it crudely offered herself for oral sex with again no evidence of force or struggle. There are also various rumours and unconfirmed truths that the victim is a fun loving girl who wouldn’t have been foreign to spending the later stages of an evening with the opposite sex. Its hard to believe but women can be as predatory as men, but not to judge as I suspect that hundreds of similar one night stands have taken place around the UK this last weekend alone.
So where did Ched Evans’s defence fall short? As it wasn’t the victim who actually complained of rape it was only when Evans and accomplice McDonald told the truth to the questioning officers that rape was even considered. Are all footballers pre-judged? A ‘no comment’ would have potentially seen him walk away without any charge as there was very little evidence as to what went on in that hotel room, bar the two men’s statements.
Again to reiterate Evans is no angel in this and doesn’t come out of it with any gravitas or respect and is certainly a wretched role model, but he has served his time and if his latest appeal doesn’t go to plan then he should start to become public on the dangers of drink and unsafe sex and show his remorse in what could plausibly have been a drunken moment of hugely regrettable madness.
Should he play for Wales again? Well he’s someone who has served his sentence and is very unlikely to repeat such behaviour. It’s a difficult decision for Chris Coleman but whatever the outcome it should not be to the detriment of Welsh football and its supporters.