More than 16,000 people have signed an online petition, to remove Sheffield United footballer, Ched Evans, from an end-of-season honours list.
The 23-year-old striker was included in the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) League One team of the year, despite the fact he is now serving a five-year jail sentence, following his conviction for raping a 19-year-old woman.
The petition can be found on the campaign website, change.org, where Leo Hardt a secondary school teacher, outlines his reasons for starting the petition: “I feel that the PFA are sending out a very troubling message. As a professional body, they have a responsibility to ensure that the public see them upholding certain values about sports professionals.”
He continues to call for signatures to, “convince them [the PFA] that honouring Ched Evans is tacitly condoning his behaviour.”
The petition has received huge support. However, the decision to include the Sheffield United striker in the list was last week defended by Chief Executive of the PFA, Gordon Taylor.
He explained that Evans was included as members had already cast their votes.
Taylor told Press Association Sport: “That was a football judgment by his fellow professionals, it was not a moral judgement and in no way does the PFA condone the offence for which he was convicted.”
He continued: “If he had been removed from the team it would have created more of a storm and would have been manipulating the vote.”
It was recently announced by Evans’s lawyers that he will be appealing against his conviction. A statement posted on the Sheffield United website reads, “Mr Evans firmly maintains his innocence in this matter”.
The case of Ched Evans has received global media attention and Hardt’s petition hasn’t been the only one. Mumsnet, a leading parenting website recently began another campaign in support of the woman who was raped by Evans.
In showing their support, BasilFoulEgg, a member of the site who started the thread entitled, ‘We believe her’, spoke of the ‘ugly spectacle’ of ‘a bunch of men asserting their right to rape women’ and called on the other members to take action.
Amy Masson, councillor for women students, told Forge Press that she believed the PFA had acted “appallingly”.
Masson said: “In any profession, one would hope that being convicted for rape would ruin a person’s reputation. Sadly this seems not to have been the case.”
Masson has posted a petition on the women’s councillor Facebook page and is encouraging other Union councillors to sign it.