Thursday, 13 November 2014

Would you let Ched Evans back on your team?

This week the news has highlighted Ched Evans will train with his former club, Sheffield United, following his serving of a prison sentence.
I listened carefully to the BBC Radio 5 live interview with Nigel Clough last evening. I didn't need to be overly discerning to hear his carefully crafted answers, which were governed by an awareness of the legalities and potential action against Sheffield United.
Ironically, I was en route to meet with the governing body of the Bristol Churches Football League and I began to wonder how we'd feel about such a situation - basically it boils down to would we let Ched Evans back on our team? Would I? As a Christian the answer to that question really needs to be a response to a bigger one ....'what would Jesus say'?
I've followed the story to the extent I've pricked up my ears whenever I've heard a report ... football, justice, re-habilitation for people convicted of crime are all things my antennae home in one, so put them together and I'm all ears. However, I was horrified to discover what comes up page 1 when you google 'Ched Evans'. Sadly, it reflects the tide of public opinion I'd been aware of, but not appreciated the shallowness and hypocrisy, until today.
So why would I accept Ched Evans back on my team?

I believe he has served the penalty for what he was convicted of. Otherwise, how can I argue elsewhere with a potential employee to offer a job to anyone previously convicted? For me, there's something about upholding our legal system and not trying to replace it.

I believe he should be offered his request for 'a second chance'. For me, there's something intrinsic to the gospel, which always responds to such a request.

I believe in rehabilitation. No way is this going to be an easy walk back into professional football. The easy route would be to slink away into obscurity. I want to work with anyone who is brave enough to stand up and be counted - there will be no third chance, can you imagine the headlines? For me, there's something about the need for a holistic response.

I believe in the need to highlight the horrors of gender based violence. I'm a big supporter of the new BMS project Dignity - refusing Ched Evans being on my team would not support this. For me, there's something about my integrity here.

I believe he is telling the truth when he claims his innocence of rape and someone needs to be prepared to believe in him. For me, there's a need to call the bluff of those who are pulling away from their previous so-called 'support' of Sheffield United. It's very sad when people take a look at the mud, which is being thrown and decide on the basis of not wanting their name, or product, to be associated in the same news item. For me, there's something about welcoming the outcast. Remember he was in the team.

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