Belfast Telegraph

Sheffield United back-tracks over offer to rapist footballer Evans

By Tim Moynihan

Sheffield United has retracted its offer to former player and convicted rapist Ched Evans to use its facilities for training purposes, the club said last night.

A statement said: "We recognise that a number of our supporters will be disappointed with this decision, but would ask that they remember the responsibilities we have not only to a fine and proud club, whose history stretches back over 125 years, but also to the communities in which Sheffield United is active and to the city we represent."

The club's decision to allow Evans the opportunity to train has sparked massive controversy.

The 25-year-old was released last month after serving half of a five-year jail sentence following his conviction for raping a 19-year-old woman in Rhyl, north Wales.

The player has always maintained his innocence despite being found guilty.

The statement said: "The club initially accepted a request from the PFA for Ched Evans to be able to train.

"The reaction to this has been at an intensity that could not have been anticipated when first announced.

"As noted in previous statements from the club, the legal system of this country provides for both the punishment and the rehabilitation of every person who has been found guilty of a crime.

"Sheffield United will not be used to promote the view that professional footballers should be treated differently, as has been the wont of certain sections of the media and various commentators.

"In addition, we remain disappointed at some of the inaccurate reporting, misinformed views and commentary, as well as the actions of a minority of individuals on social media. Professional footballers must be treated as equals before the law."

The club said it condemned rape and violence of any kind against women in the strongest possible terms.

"The club is aware that Ched Evans is pursuing legal recourse via the Criminal Cases Review Commission in the determination he has to clear his name. We trust that he will be afforded a fair hearing," it added.

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