As he's released from prison, CollinsBeans has its say on the Ched Evans debate
The issue of former Sheffield United player Ched Evans' reemployment as he's released from prison today after serving a sentence for rape is far from straightforward. It's clearly a very blurred line where arguments can be made on both sides and ultimately, whatever happens, there will be many left angry and frustrated.
Of course on a very practical level, there is no reason why Ched Evans can't be employed by Sheffield United, or any other football club for that matter. Evans has served the punishment he was given. He's now a free man; free to be given a job by any employer that wishes to do so. Morally of course, it's slightly more complex.
As is so often the case, double standards tend to appear in this debate too. There are many who would argue that Evans deserves a second chance. That rehabilitating criminals into work and society is important, in terms of forgiveness and in preventing reoffending. Yet many of those putting forward this case, which is a valid one no doubt, would probably rather Evans didn't turn up at their own football club. "The kid deserves a second chance, just not in my team…"
Also personal experience is an important factor to remember too. Those calling for second chances and forgiveness may not have any direct experience of dealing with the victims of rape. Would those people think slightly differently if it was their sister, mother, cousin or close friend who was the victim of Evan's crime? It always seems easier to preach about forgiveness from afar.
This situation also prompts debate about other issues (far beyond football) such as sentencing. Certainly one of the factors in the case of Evans is that many feel he hasn't really be punished all that severely. Evans entered jail at 23, and he's now free aged 25. In football terms that means he hasn't actually lost a great deal of his career. Some players miss two years with injury. There is a sense in some quarters that Evans has got off lightly; that he still has a very long and lucrative career in football ahead of him.
It feels out of this blog's remit to debate and analyse in detail the pros and cons of Britain's criminal justice system, but a perceived leniency in the case of Evans is definitely playing a role in the debate on his future - and of course the high profile, extremely desirable nature of being a professional footballer. The decision whether to reintegrate and reemploy ex-offenders must be considered daily across the country, but a man convicted of rape returning to football provokes a lot more interest.
As stated at the start, whatever happens with Evans, there will be many that are left feeling wronged. And sadly professional football in general does have a dubious moral compass, so it's not the ideal place for this sort of issue to be played out.
What is surely not in doubt is that Evans will find a football club somewhere to employ him. Because when it comes to professional clubs, it's the bottom line that usually wins the argument.