The Professional Footballers Association of Ireland have taken the seemingly unnecessary step of publishing an article from their solicitor Stuart Gilhooly regarding the ongoing situation with Ched Evans. For anyone not aware of the situation, former Sheffield United striker Evans was convicted of rape in April 2012 and served a two and a half year sentence before being released last month. He has since begun training with Sheffield United once more at the behest of the PFA in England.
Evans continues to make headlines due to the will they won't they nature of Sheffield United's possible resigning of the Welshman. A number of high profile patrons of the club have severed links over the ongoing situation and Jessica Ennis-Hill has this week said that she will demand that the club remove her name from one of the Bramall Lane stands if Evans is resigned.
It is in this climate that the PFAI have decided to publish an article which many seem to feel trivialises Evans' actions. Regardless of how you might view the article, the question must be asked, why did the PFAI feel the need to comment on such an obviously delicate subject that doesn't directly concern them?
This section of the article in particular has been quite contentious.
So, let’s get to the point, should Ched Evans be allowed back in football? Clearly, if he has been a victim of miscarriage of justice then he should.
However, let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that he is guilty and knew he was having sex with a woman that was too drunk to consent. In those circumstances, he has deservedly received a five year sentence and the consequences that flow from a conviction for a sexual offence. Rape is a horrific crime which, upon rightful conviction, should always be punished by a custodial sentence.
The difficult element of this discussion, though, is the part about the scale of the crime. There are people who will say rape is rape and degrees shouldn’t come into it but in sentencing these issues matter. This crime, as alleged, was at the bottom end. There was no violence and thankfully the victim has no recollection of it. This, I hasten to add, does not make it right, or anything close to it, but it is nonetheless a mitigating factor.
You can read the article in full on the PFAI website.
The response to the piece has been far from positive.
"This crime, as alleged, is at the bottom end". That's the bottom end of some imagined rape scale btw. I can't believe that piece.
— John O'Sullivan (@johngosullivan) November 17, 2014
@RichieMcCormack @PFAIOfficial this is disgusting. Just vile. How can people talk about rape like that?! — Jenn Gannon (@jennpops) November 17, 2014
Astonishing statement by a solicitor for Irish players' union @PFAIOfficial @PFAISolicitor about Ched Evans. http://t.co/4Y8VYiuQoN
— Tricia (@Tr16ia) November 17, 2014
@alansmith90 "If having sex with a drunk woman is rape then thousands of men are guilty of rape every day" Jesus fucking Christ. — Aoibheann (@Aoibheann_N) November 17, 2014
That PFAI piece on Ched Evans is vile.
— Aideen Blackwood (@aideenblackwood) November 17, 2014
PFAI on Ched Evans: "There is surely nothing worse than being accused of a crime which you genuinely believe you didn’t commit" — Alan Smith (@alansmith90) November 17, 2014
PFAI on Ched Evans case "If having sex with a drunk woman is rape then thousands of men are guilty of rape every day" http://t.co/5KKDmpeBDF
— Alan Smith (@alansmith90) November 17, 2014
Love the irony of coming out against courts of 'public opinion' by writing about a case in a foreign country that you followed through media — Dodge (@seidodge) November 17, 2014
That PFAI statement on Ched Evans is seriously bizarre, and disgraceful. How did that ever seem like a good idea?
— Eoin Brennan (@_EoinBrennan) November 17, 2014
I hope none of the players represented by the PFAI, their family members or friends have been the victim of rape or sexual assault. — Erika Ní Thuama (@Erika_2_me) November 17, 2014
@johngosullivan I just can't get my head around it.. Disgraceful piece of rubbish!
— Erika Ní Thuama (@Erika_2_me) November 17, 2014
So, the Irish PFA have published article on their website comparing Ched Evans to Guildford Four. Its by PFA solicitor. #Gobsmacked
— Anna Kessel (@Anna_Kessel) November 17, 2014
@Anna_Kessel @arseblog what the actual fuck - you surely are taking the piss ? The guildford 4 were fitted up and innocent where as ......
— Mad ad man (@Lordhillwood) November 17, 2014