Monday, 23 April 2012

Ched Evans: Drawing the line.

It's safe to say that the past six months have been a series of major highs and manic lows for Chedwyn Michael Evans, a Welsh footballer playing for Sheffield United FC. Unable to make a start for the Blades for the first 9 games of the 2011/2012 season due to injury, he came into the squad in mid to late September. Controversial new manager Danny Wilson has been a breath of fresh air for Sheffield United Football Club, and proved his peers very much wrong sometime ago. One of the players that Danny has had a significant impact upon is Ched Evans. As a young player, Ched always seemed to struggle to show his potential under the likes of Blackwell, Adams, and even the late Gary Speed, who went on to be Ched's manager for the Welsh National Team, up until his unbelievably early, shocking death. This proved to not only be difficult for Ched Evans to come to terms with, but every single person who has any footballing connection across the UK and the rest of the world. Ched has scored 35 goals for Sheffield United this season. He has been an utter pleasure to watch, and I can honestly say I have never enjoyed watching a Sheffield United footballer so much in my 10 or so years watching the Blades.

The thing is, this is my opinion of Ched as a footballer, not a person. I've never met Ched Evans. All I know about him is that he's from Rhyl in North Wales, he's absolutely excellent at scoring goals, and that on the 20th April 2012 he was convicted of raping a nineteen-year-old woman. A large majority of people know pretty much those same three facts, yet are completely convinced that he is either innocent or guilty. Until his trial, he should have been treated as innocent until proven guilty. Now that he has been proven guilty, I firmly believe that this is the way in which he should be treated until (well, if) he proves his innocence. So, pre trial: innocent until proven guilty. Post trial: guilty until proven innocent. Rape is one of the most disgusting, unforgivable offences that any person could ever commit. I'm sure I'm not the only person who has seen the way in which rape can completely destroy a person's life. 

I understand why people are questioning the verdict, as I also did. All the evidence shown in the court was also shown in the media, and there didn't really seem to be that much of it. However, I'm not a judge, barrister, solicitor or member of the jury that came to this conclusion. And they obviously came to this decision for a reason. Just because he is an utterly wonderful football player, and in the words of colleagues and friends 'a great guy', it just does not mean he is innocent. 

I'll miss watching Ched play football, but for now, until this entire case and possible appeal is over, he is where he deserves to be. The way in which Danny Wilson and other backroom staff at Sheffield United have handled the entirety of this case is something which they should be incredibly proud of as both people and professionals. The last thing I'll say on this matter is that me and Chris (@chris_webster) reckon if we all chip in a few hundred quid each, we could get Messi on loan for about 7.5 seconds... anyone else in?

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Sexism In Football?

I first read this article a few days ago. A lot of people would probably find it very strange how excited and overjoyed I was after reading it, but I just couldn't believe that the issue I'd cared about for so long was finally being given the media coverage it completely deserves. Ending sexism in football is something that I have been extremely passionate about since I first started Sixth Form, which was about three years ago now. I'd never really spoken to a lot of the boys in my year before, and when they all found out I was a big football fan, reactions went both ways. Of course, I have to stress that it wasn't all the boys that wouldn't take my opinion seriously. Many of them often chatted to me about the game and listened to what I had to say, but I still found it annoying that there was just as many who wouldn't listen to my opinion just because I'm a girl. Phrases that often came about were 'YOU like FOOTBALL...?!' and 'Do you actually like, go to matches and stuff?!'

Yes, I do. I'm a girl, and I really love football. I go to every home match and as many away matches as I can. What is the problem with that?

 It was the week starting 20th March 2011 that I feel my opinion was properly listened to and respected for the first time. Living in a town near Leeds, pretty much every football fan supports Leeds United. On 19th March 2011, we beat them 2-0, and of course I got loads of stick for it. But by arguing the facts and explaining how we completely outplayed them in every aspect of the game, many of the boys that never gave me the time of day actually began to realise that I knew just as much as they did.

So, back to last night's program. I thought that it was done very well, and it showed the women and the issue exactly as it should have done. We don't hate men, we don't want women to dominate football, we just want to be equal. I knew there would be a lot of debate afterwards, and I knew that I'd probably get annoyed by a lot of the comments on Twitter, but some people's opinions really did shock me. What really, genuinely upset me the most was being told that this is something that women should just accept.

'It's just banter, and women should accept it.'

So Karren Brady should just accept having 'get your tits out' and 'slut' shouted at her, simply because she's a woman who works in a supposed "man's world"? These are derogatory, upsetting, offensive terms. Shouting offensive comments towards somebody of a different gender is no different to shouting racist, offensive comments at somebody of a different ethnicity. Would you tell somebody being racially abused at work that it's just 'banter' and that they should just shut up and accept it?

Another point that was thrown around was 'What about sexism towards men? That's never talked about in the media and given it's own TV program.'

The whole point of programs such as 'Sexism in Football?' is to show that any kind of sexism is completely and utterly wrong, whether it is towards women or men. It just happened to be focused around women because sexism in the football industry is currently one of the biggest cases.

There are many people that will think this whole issue is just one great big overreaction. If that is your opinion, think about just how much you love football. It wouldn't be the same without the females behind the scenes and the females that support it. And if you think football would be much better if we just left you men to it? Firstly, shame on you. Secondly, tough shit, we're here to stay whether you like it or not.