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Sheffield United rescind training offer from convicted rapist Ched Evans

Soccer - Ched Evans file photos

FILE - In this March 17, 2012 file photo, Sheffield United’s Ched Evans runs on the pitch during a soccer match in Sheffield, England. Evans, a former Premier League footballer who was convicted of rape was released from jail on Friday, Oct. 17, 2014 amid a national debate about whether he should be allowed to play professionally again. (AP Photo/PA, Nick Potts, File) UNITED KINGDOM OUT, NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE


Ched Evans arrived at Sheffield United in 2009 for about $4.7 million in 2009 and two years later, he was indicted for the rape of a 19-year-old women, only to play out the 2011-12 season and end with 35 goals in 42 caps, a career-high number for the Welshman.

On April 20, 2012, he was convicted of rape and sentenced to five years imprisonment, a massive blemish on what could’ve been a continuously effective career for Evans.

A petition signed by 150,000 people urged teams officials to part ways with the striker after they had approached him months before his final release, which took place in mid-October.

Nonetheless, an announcement declared that the Blades would allow the convicted rapist to participate in training, but no much later, clearly facing fierce opposition to the decision, the franchise decided to rescind the offer. Among the dissenters was Olympian Jessica Ennis-Hill, who said she would remove her name from a stand at Brammall Lane (United’s stadium).

Sheffield released a formal statement regarding the sudden change of heart, from BBC Sport.

“Sheffield United have decided to retract the opportunity for its former player, Ched Evans, to use the club’s facilities for training purposes,” adding that the U-turn followed consultation with supporters, officials, staff and sponsors.

“We recognise that a number of our supporters will be disappointed with this decision, but would ask that they remember the responsibilities we have not only to a fine and proud club, but also to the communities in which Sheffield United is active.

“The club condemns rape and violence of any kind against women in the strongest possible terms.”

The Guardian noted that fans, even though a large amount of them disagree with letting Evans back on the field, don’t all hold those feelings toward the situation, as supporters at matches have chanted the scorer’s name in a positive manner.

But, in the end, when the original training settlement inferred Evans was re-signed, Sheffield United Community Foundation resignations from singer-songwriter Paul Heaton, television presenter Charlie Webster, 1960s pop singer Dave Berry and businesswoman Lindsay Graham overrode the possibility of a return.