People, usually those blinded by their unquestioning Pavlovian devotion, still refer to football by this moniker. Perhaps 80 odd years ago when players still had full time jobs and played solely for the love of the contest the nametag was possibly true. I doubt it can be said to be so anymore.
I’ll admit I’m biased. I loathe football. Well, that’s what I say but it’s a kind of a misleading shorthand. The game itself is fine. No better or worse than tennis or cricket or hockey. What I loathe in reality is the culture of football. When I’ve dared to voice this opinion on various social networking platforms I am invariably shotdown by football stalwarts who take considerable time and energy to tell me, via lots of swearing and insults, of the marvellous community aspect of football, of how it makes people feel they belong, looks after and nurtures local talent, gives people a leg up and does a shedload of great charity work to boot. Oh and some footballers even have degrees thus disproving my cliched theory that all footballers are thickos who were only ever good at sport at school.
But all this changes nothing. I loathe the culture of football. The disproportionately large wages. The fast cars and the drivers who feel they have a right to drive them at 120mph and go hang the safety of other drivers. The attitude that they are God’s gift and their football stardom entitles them to behave like some rockstar behemoth – buying what and who they want, acquiring trophy girlfriends and trophy houses and extolling the chauvenistic ideals of sleeping around with whoever the hell they like. Nightclubs the country over are full of cocky young men who are earning far too much money for their own good and whose chat-up lines revolve solely around the fact that they are a “famous footballer”. All those around them are put there solely for their own entertainment and pleasure. Far too many of them see themselves as old world kings who own all that their eyes happen to fall upon.
Out of this culture we inevitably get people like Ched Evans.
I find it hard to countenance that there is even a debate about whether he should be allowed to return to a football career after he has been convicted of raping a 19 year old woman who was far too intoxicated to ever consciously consent to what was happening to her. The fact he has shown no remorse and refuses to apologize – indeed he refuses to accept that he did anything wrong – is testament to all that is wrong with footballing culture. The facts behind the case highlight the tawdriness and dehuminazing aspects of football social culture. Another player, Clayton McDonald, apparently sent Ched a text to say he had a “bird” lined up. Ched went round to McDonald’s hotel room and watched him bed the poor girl. Ched then decided he’d like a go too. CCTV footage reportedly shows not only how drunk the girl was but also various team mates of Ched watching from the sidelines as if they were at a spectator sport. No doubt braying and shouting slogans as if they were on the terraces; egging Ched on.
Let’s make it clear; there is no debate about the facts. Sleeping with someone who is too drunk to consent to the act is a crime. It is statuatory rape. End of. The fact that not only Ched and McDonald were a party to this but also others is a disgrace. Not one of them stopped to think how they would feel if this poor woman was their sister or daughter or other family member. So little empathy or respect for another human being – all burnt up in their unailienable rights to sate their own voracious desires. Because plainly their status means they own the world and can do whatever the hell they like.
To make it worse supporters of Ched – how can such a man have any? – have subesquently harrassed the poor woman so much so that she has had to move house 5 times and go into hiding. She now cannot see her own family in case it blows her cover.
Again, this highlights all that is wrong with footballing culture. That a mere game is placed above not only the law but also all human decency. Defenders of Ched say he was punished with imprisonment not unemployment so should be allowed to return to professional football. It sounds a logical argument until you consider that the culture that has grown up around football and footballers created the circumstances that led to the rape in the first place. Acknowledge that and Ched’s return to football is impossible. Acknowledge that and you have to accept that it is not only Ched that needs to be punished, corrected and reeducated but a huge proportion of the profession itself. Plus those fans that still can see nothing wrong with Ched’s behaviour on that night.
Football – the players, the managers, the club owners and even the fans – need to take a long hard look at themselves. I’m sure there is plenty to celebrate about football but there is too much that needs to change. I’m sure many of the fans and players are decent people with good morals but as Ched and his team mates clearly show, there are too many with a highly inflated sense of entitlement that leads them to treat others as nothing more than pieces of meat, there to be used and then forgotten about. They and those fans that condone this kind of behaviour need to be educated to the contrary. A strong message needs to be sent out that this kind of behaviour is morally wrong and repugnant. It is a blight and a cancer and those on Twitter and elsewhere that think it Ok to harrass a victim of rape are as guilty as Ched. They all need to be eradicated from football completely. Expunged and exiled.
Maybe then, when footballers are proper role models that showcase respect and decency and even, dare I say it, chivalry for all, both on and off the pitch, then maybe, just maybe, football will truly be the beautiful game that so many of its fans desperately want it to be.
Boycott the sponsors
English Rider: a beautiful idea...
Not sure if you caught Channel 4 news last night with Charlie Webster and some plonker 'football agent' (conveniently have forgotten his name) debating the Evans issue?
She was articulate and very reserved, got her point home and was non-accusatory as well, quite remarkable and highly admirable.
He was, well, a total dick. And most likely someone who was braying on the sidelines as well whilst the dreadful event was taking place.
And I also loathe football, for all the same reasons as those you have listed above.
Brilliant post Steve, as ever.
LCM: I'm always happiest preaching to the converted! ;-) Missed the debate; might see if I can catch it on the web.
I once played football as a goalkeeper and found it pathetically easy to block all the "shots" at my goal. Then I got sent off for using my fist. How was I supposed to know that I had to punch the ball rather than the fool who was trying to butt it with his head? I concluded that football was a game for boastful humans who have an inferiority complex about apes.
Gorilla Bananas: not for the first time, I am in total agreement with you.
At the higher echelons, no longer a sport but a money machine..how many differing kits can they persuade parents to buy for their younger fans...what sponsorship can they attract....
So I'm not surprised that those up to their necks in the machine see nothing wrong with this man returning to the public eye - after all, he didn't rape a sponsor, did he? That would have really been beyond the pale.
Great post, thank you.
The fly in the web: what amazes me is the number of people who see Ched's punishment by the legal system as being the end of the matter and that the sport itself bears no responsibility or need to respond. This is untrue. The culture of football is a major contributing factor and needs to be held up to the microscope of society's censure.
After reading this I googled his name, as I was not familiar with the case. The first thing that came up was a website in his name that is dedicated to his innocence and claims he was wrongly imprisoned. **leaves room to vomit**
This is interesting, as there was a similar response to the Ray Rice elevator DV incident over here. So many people jumping to his defense, a very slow and inadequate response by the league, etc.
We have lots of work to do yet.
Wanderlust: there was CCTV evidence at his trial that clearly shows his victim was too inebriated to have had any idea what she was doing. Therefore it is quite clearly rape. End of. I'm appalled at how many people - mostly men it has to be said - who don't get that or won't accept it. It is doubly worrying when football culture informs so many young impressionable minds. It is an aspirational sport. It needs to be taking far greater responsibility over it's perceived image and over it's individual practitioners. As a culture it is chauvinistic and prehistoric in its attitudes. It is in urgent need of some modern re-thinking.
Hmmmm, problem is, he has served his sentence. So maybe the problem is his sentence was too light. But he didn't get a life sentence and he has the right, once he has served his time, to rebuild his life. That is part of our justice system. So whilst I think the whole episode is dreadful and would not condone his behaviour or most of the bad things surrounding the sport you have brought up, I think we cannot pick and choose which criminals lives we wish to continue to punish and control after their sentence is served. So I say again, maybe his sentence was wrong not the return to a job post sentence.
K Ville: there is a clear division in my mind between the response of the Law - which has been served - and a response from the FA regarding the type of chauvinistic, bullish, playboy behaviour exhibited by far too many of the footballers. I suspect Ched isn't alone in his guilt or his disgusting conduct. The FA needs to make a stand. If that means Ched becomes a scapegoat so be it. I'm afraid I have little sympathy for someone who abused his celebrity, privileged lifestyle to abuse another human being. Footballers, like it or not, are also icons to many impressionable young people. They need to set an example. Again, if that is unfair on Ched, tough. There is a young woman out there - probably many young women - who still cannot rebuild her life because of what happened whilst Ched is running around still denying that he did anything wrong. Who maintains that having sex with a young woman who was too drunk to consent was fine. It is not. To allow him back into that playboy lifestyle will make a mockery of the Law and condone his crime and send out all the wrong signals.
Not sure what I think. His crime was pretty unpleasent, and he's was tried, found guilty, sentanced and served his term in prison. In which case hasn't he paid the penalty society had imposed.
There's little point in making him unemployable: much effort is spent by the prision authorities trying to make offeners employable once they leave HM Prisons. He has a trade.
All the talk of footballers being role models is crass: as you point out yourself. That shouldn't therefore be an agrument for not allowing him to resume his trade.
I suggest that he is allowed to play, unpaid for a year or so. Or he is paid and donates a large percentage of his wage to a suitable cause. That might serve to square this particular circle.
Barry: very sober and rational. But not as entertaining as my idea of a celebrity firing squad with his remains being hanged, drawn and quartered and his head being mounted on the bar of the Queen Vic. Maybe I'm just hopelessly out of touch with what people want these days?
why did I get a lecture and Barry get a 'sober and rational'? We said the same damn thing.
Yours in huff and taking my ball home (will probably be back out to play tomorrow but I'm not admitting it tonight) *slams garden gate*
K Ville: to be fair your comment was also sober and rational (well, the first one was) but as I also implied on my reply to Barry with my firing squad comments, this case does not provoke a sober and rational response in me. However, as the debate has gone on and various Twitter trolls have attacked Ched and his family and the staff of the football club who were thinking of signing him it's made me accept that mob rule is not a great idea. In which case all there is left is the rule of Law. And there has to be one rule for everyone. So I'm possibly, logically, a little closer to yours and Barry's argument than I was initially. My gut feeling, however, is he still should not be allowed back into the financially rewarding, celebrity lifestyle of professional football. Would you like a quick kick around the garden? I can bring the ball this time?
I agree. I don't believe convicted rapists should be allowed back into any sport where celebrity, perks, luxuries are expected and received. Regardless of a sentence (light or otherwise) already being served.
Being Me: I find people's counter argument that "Ched has served his time so should be allowed back to work" irritating. When Rolf Harris is released from prison, can anyone anywhere seriously see him returning to television for another round of Rolf's Cartoon Club? I think not!
I really enjoyed this. So much passion. And I agree with you on all accounts. Such disgusting behaviour should not be glamourised. And not only that, it should be condemned.
Fredulous Yo: as a subject it certainly does excite a lot of passion... which is good. I think I would be very concerned if the public responded with boredom to this case. It's nice to know that people do actually care about such an emotive subject.
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