63,000 people sign petition to prevent Sheffield United from signing convicted rapist
More than 63,000 people have signed a petition to prevent Ched Evans, a convicted rapist, from signing for League One side Sheffield United when he is released from prison.
The 25-year-old was jailed for five years in April 2012 when he was found guilty of raping a 19-year-old girl in a hotel room.
The former Manchester City striker, who recently reattempted to get the conviction overturned, was prosecuted after it was revealed that the girl was too drunk to consent to the act.
Evans could be released in October and the club is interested in re-signing the player when he gets out of prison.
Supporters divided over re-signing Evans
A member of the Sheffield United Supporters Club, Alan Smith, said: “He has served his time, he has served his sentence and we would have him back.
“Good players like that have got to carry on playing and if not for Sheffield United it would be for someone else, and we would regret that.”
But an online petition has so far received more than 63,000 signatures asking Sheffield United’s chairman Kevin McCabe to not give Evans a contract upon his release from prison.
An organization called Rape Crisis England and Wales have also requested the club to think twice before signing the player.
Director of communications Katie Russell said: “It is of course any convicted criminal's right to serve their sentence and then go back into employment. We absolutely stand by that.
“But at the same time we would urge Sheffield United to think very carefully about the message that they send when they immediately re-employ someone who's been convicted of such a very serious crime.
“If they choose to do that, which is their right, we urge them to seriously consider the impact that will have on huge numbers of their supporters and we urge them to make a very strong statement condemning sexual violence, condemning violence against women and girls and making it clear that misogyny, sexism, violence and sexual violence in particular won't be tolerated within football.”