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Former heavyweight boxing champion Tyson barred by New Zealand after charity snub

Former heavyweight boxing champion Tyson barred by New Zealand after charity snub

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UPDATED:

05:50 GMT, 3 October 2012

Barred: Mike Tyson

Barred: Mike Tyson

Former heavyweight boxing champion and convicted rapist Mike Tyson has had his visa to visit New Zealand cancelled.

And a speaking tour for the former
heavyweight boxing champion was threatening to fall apart altogether as
Australian immigration authorities said they've yet to decide whether to
allow him into the country.

Tickets for appearances in New
Zealand and five major Australian cities in November are still being
promoted by a Sydney agency.

Tyson's 1992 rape conviction would
normally prevent his entry in New Zealand and could be grounds for
denial in Australia as well. He had been granted an exemption for New
Zealand before that visa was cancelled, days after the prime minister
spoke out against the visit.

Tyson was to speak at a November
event in Auckland, the 'Day of the Champions' which is being promoted by
Sydney agency Markson Sparks!

New Zealand's Associate Immigration
Minister Kate Wilkinson said she'd initially granted entry because a
children's health charity would get some of the proceeds from Tyson's
speech. She said in a statement her decision was 'a finely balanced
call' but that the charity that would have benefited, the Life Education
Trust, withdrew its support on Tuesday.

'Given that the trust is no longer supporting the event, on balance, I have made the decision to cancel his visa,' Wilkinson wrote in her statement.

The charity's chief executive, John O'Connell, however, said the charity had long ago decided not to accept any money from the event due to its concerns over Tyson's character, but that a volunteer trustee had mistakenly sent a letter to immigration authorities supporting Tyson's plans.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Australia's Department of Immigration and Citizenship said: 'I can tell you that a decision is still pending' on Tyson's application for an Australian visa.

Big hit: Former heavyweight champion Tyson

Big hit: Former heavyweight champion Tyson

Tyson's criminal history could prevent him from obtaining an Australian visa. Would-be visitors normally must pass a character test. Those with a 'substantial criminal record' – which by the immigration department's definition includes people who, like Tyson, have been sentenced to more than a year in prison – would fail the test. But the department can still use its discretion to grant a visa.

Colorful promoter Max Markson said he'd been 'hoping it might be a smoother run with Mike Tyson' but that he remained confident Australia would grant Tyson a visa and that New Zealand would reverse its decision when he found another suitable charity.

'He'll only be in the country for 20 hours, I don't think he's a danger to anybody, and thousands of people want to see him,' Markson said of Tyson's planned New Zealand leg.

Markson said he's continuing to sell tickets to the planned speeches in both countries and that buyers will get a full refund if the shows are cancelled. He said he had immigration lawyers in Australia, New Zealand and the United States working on the case.

Speaking to the APNZ news agency this week from Las Vegas before his New Zealand visa was cancelled, Tyson said his tattoo was inspired by those worn by New Zealand's indigenous Maori.

In pre-European times, many Maori wore elaborate facial tattoos as a sign of their status in their tribe. Some Maori who identify strongly with their traditional culture get similar tattoos.

Tyson told the agency that, aside from their tattoos, he knew little about the Maori people 'so I'm looking forward to come down there and see them.'

Prime Minister John Key spoke against the planned visit this week, questioning the decision by immigration authorities and saying he personally disapproved of the visit given Tyson's conviction for such a serious crime.

Before his visa was cancelled, Tyson said: 'Fortunately, I am coming to New Zealand and there's nothing they can do about it and I'm so sorry, I'm sorry they feel disappointed and I'm just living my life.'

Tyson was sentenced to six years in prison for the 1991 rape of 18-year-old Desiree Washington in an Indianapolis hotel room. He served three years before being released on parole.

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Martin Samuel: Roy Hodgson – we"re not out to get him

Martin Samuel: Out to get them No, we don't hound managers, we just want results

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UPDATED:

22:36 GMT, 30 April 2012

Football journalism. It's a results business. Just like football, really.

When Arsene Wenger took over at Arsenal, he was greeted with headlines asking ‘Arsene Who’ He answered that with a title or two, and now everybody knows his name.

Compelling evidence in football arrives not just year by year, but week by week, and cannot be overridden by mere trenchant opinion for long. A critic may still believe Roberto Di Matteo was a dismal appointment as interim manager at Chelsea, but try to justify that, as of now.

Jobs lot: Roy Hodgson is expected to be confirmed as the England manager for Euro 2012

Jobs lot: Roy Hodgson is expected to be confirmed as the England manager for Euro 2012

So this idea that Roy Hodgson can, or will, be hounded from the England job by a vengeful, embittered, southern-based press, stung that the FA have overlooked their chosen one, Harry Redknapp, really is beyond stupidity.

You know who gets England managers the sack Players. Either ours or theirs. Ours by not being good enough, theirs by being better.

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Martin Samuel: Only in football would a rapist get a round of applause
24/04/12

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Martin Samuel: We don't need ringers to make us Great Britons
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Whatever the surface reason for a
manager’s departure, results will have got him in the end. Win and it
does not matter what the media think, write or say. Win and everything
else is chatter.

You write your own headlines, Kevin Keegan would tell the players, and he was correct. Between two blows of the referee’s whistle, there is 90 minutes in which no pundit can interfere and if Hodgson makes his mark then, he is beyond criticism.

The honeymoon period is overplayed. No media darling has ever talked his way out of a 2-0 home defeat at Wembley. Indeed, I remember Hodgson’s verdict after England lost by that margin to Chile in the February before the 1998 World Cup finals. ‘Wembley is England’s fortress,’ he said. ‘You don’t lose at your fortress.’

Glenn Hoddle was in charge that night. He was undone by results eventually, too. History pretends he resigned after relaying a somewhat outlandish interpretation of Buddhist philosophy to a national newspaper, but that is only the half of it.

Those thoughts were first aired in a radio interview prior to the 1998 World Cup finals, but nobody cared. Hoddle was the England manager that had won Italy’s World Cup qualifying group and there was no appetite for cutting down that particular tall poppy.

Later that year, when he revisited the subject, it was on the back of an underwhelming World Cup and a poor start to the European Championship qualifying campaign. Goodbye.

Hot Spur: Harry Redknapp is perceived to be a darling of the British press

Hot Spur: Harry Redknapp is perceived to be a darling of the British press

Was Hoddle hounded out by media No, he went from winning to losing. Results have done for every England manager, even Fabio Capello, who despite going a year unbeaten was never forgiven for the 2010 World Cup finals debacle.

The press view is invariably divided anyway. Hodgson’s decisions will split opinion, as Capello’s did, as Redknapp’s would have. Yet to read some of the more outraged responses to criticism of Hodgson’s appointment, one would think the football press lived in Harry’s loft space on a diet of jellied eels.

Any resistance to Hodgson is a southern media conspiracy. Truth is, there is no collusion, no cabal, no convergence of interests.

As for geographical bias, where do you think Croydon, Hodgson’s birthplace, is Here’s the reality: of the nine chief football writers at the national newspapers, four are based in London and the South East, two in Manchester and one each in Liverpool, the East Midlands and West Yorkshire.

Hounded out, or not that good Glen Hoddle

Hounded out, or not that good Glen Hoddle

As for club allegiances, three support Liverpool and the others variously follow Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United, Fulham, Arsenal, Nottingham Forest and Manchester United. Nobody supports West Ham United or comes from east London.

Provincials outnumber southerners. If anything, Hodgson should be a victim of northern bias. But then how does that fit in with the Redknapp plot These conspiracy theories do not stack up.

Just maybe, there was much support for Redknapp because he was considered the obvious choice for the job: by Sir Alex Ferguson, Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Martin O’Neill, Rio Ferdinand, Alan Pardew. That does not make Hodgson inadequate; just, in many minds, the second choice.

And this is what so many seem unable to understand. It is quite possible to rate Hodgson, but not support his appointment as England manager; just as it is possible to appreciate the job David Moyes has done at Everton, without considering him the most suitable successor to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.

The support for Redknapp was nuanced, not knee-jerk, because it took into account the demands of this particular job; the need to knit a squad together in a short space of time, the delicacy of the issues around the Ferdinand brothers and John Terry and with the break-up of Europe into smaller nations, the number of matches in which England need to make the play and go out to attack.

Redknapp fitted that bill. The idea that media men liked him simply because he is good for a one-liner is facile. If that was the case, Fleet Street would still be behind Graham Taylor. We’ve just done four years with a man who spoke in six-word sentences and he was loved until the 2010 World Cup campaign went bust.

This season, Hodgson has taken to banging his head against the dug-out roof and threw a black armband of remembrance to the floor in disgust. Believe me, we’ll get by.

Do YOU know what football writers like most A winning team. Covering winners is always more fun. Being around England at the 1996 European Championship was a joy; following the doomed qualifying campaign for Euro 2008 was excruciating. On the road with Capello en route to South Africa: happy camping. Once in Rustenburg: holidays in hell.

How to make friends and alienate people: Fabio Capello endured an indifferent relationship with the press, but fell on his sword because results weren't good enough

How to make friends and alienate people: Fabio Capello endured an indifferent relationship with the press, but fell on his sword because results weren't good enough

So nobody wants Hodgson to fail. Many firmly believe England should be managed by an Englishman but, once Capello was appointed, the manager was taken on his merits.

And Hodgson has merit, no doubt of that. International experience, European experience, age on his side — national management is an older man’s game, because younger coaches get bored — and an admired and thorough coach.

Yet the fact remains his greatest success has come in jobs with limited expectation and, with England, expectation is huge. Far bigger than what he faced at Liverpool, or Inter Milan. This is where he has struggled in the past.

If the FA sought Hodgson’s involvement in the Burton-on-Trent project, as is claimed, they should have dumped the various elite and development experts, and used their salaries to pay Hodgson a proper wage, making him technical director. Effectively, he would have been Redknapp’s boss.

So there was most certainly a major job for Hodgson at the FA; just not necessarily the one he was discussing on Monday. Still, never mind.

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Ched Evans fans planning to cheer convicted rapist

Cheers for a rapist: Ched Evans fans planning grotesque show of support as Sheffield United play live on TV
Jailed Sheffield United player will be honoured during game this afternoon
Staged clapping, normally reserved for late legends, will be held twice

By
Paul Bracchi

PUBLISHED:

09:01 GMT, 28 April 2012

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UPDATED:

09:01 GMT, 28 April 2012

Ched Evans will be remembered at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane ground this afternoon with a round of applause in the ninth minute of the televised home game, and in the 35th minute.

Why, at those precise moments Well, Evans wore the coveted No 9 shirt for United and had scored 35 goals for them over the past season. The Wales international was their star striker, the Wayne Rooney of the team.

Terrace tributes such as staged clapping are normally reserved for giants of the game — great players or managers — who have recently passed away.

Standing by her man: Despite being jailed for raping a teenager, Ched Evans is being supported by his girlfriend Natasha Massey, who has kept this picture of the couple on her Twitter account

Standing by her man: Despite being jailed for raping a teenager, Ched Evans is being supported by his girlfriend Natasha Massey, who has kept this picture of the couple on her Twitter account

Distasteful: Evans celebrates after scoring at Sheffield United's Bramall Lane, where he will be remembered at a game this afternoon with rounds of applause in the ninth and 35th minutes

Distasteful: Evans celebrates after scoring at Sheffield United's Bramall Lane, where he will be remembered at a game this afternoon with rounds of applause in the ninth and 35th minutes

Ched Evans has not ‘passed away’, even though we have been referring to him in the past tense.

In fact, he’s being detained at Her Majesty’s Pleasure at Altcourse Prison in Liverpool, where he is beginning a five-year sentence following his conviction for rape last week.

The brief, disturbing details are these: The intoxicated victim — who could barely stand up — was initially picked up on a street corner by Evans’s friend, another footballer, who took her back to his hotel for sex before passing her onto Evans.

In other words, the 19-year-old young woman was ‘roasted’ (the term footballers use for group sex) and raped while Evans’s brother and a mate tried to film proceedings on a mobile phone from a window outside the ground-floor room.

Two predatory footballers, then, one teenage girl, and a pair of voyeurs.

Going places: Evans, pictured with Miss Massey admiring a rare 1972 Ferrari, had been tipped to join a Premiership club next season and was in the running to represent Team GB at this summer's Olympics

Going places: Evans, pictured with Miss Massey admiring a rare 1972 Ferrari, had been tipped to join a Premiership club next season and was in the running to represent Team GB at this summer's Olympics

Even so, in the eyes of many supporters, the real victim is Evans himself, not to mention their ‘beloved’ Sheffield United, which has been deprived of his services as the side close in on promotion from League One.

So, shortly after kick-off at 5.20pm, a convicted rapist could be lauded at a British football stadium in front of a vast television audience.

The planned tribute has been widely debated on fans’ forums over the past few days.

One message reads: ‘I have been asked to post here on behalf of a Blade who wants as many Blades as possible to give their support for our Ched (live on TV). The match — against Stevenage — is being broadcast on Sky.’

It is only the latest shocking revelation in this still unfolding story.

Tensions: Although supportive, it emerged during the trial that Miss Massey hated Evans going out because 'girls throw themselves at you'

Tensions: Although supportive, it emerged during the trial that Miss Massey hated Evans going out because 'girls throw themselves at you'

‘Drunken slag’, ‘tramp’, ‘bitch’ and ‘whore’ are just some of the things the teenager at the centre of the case has been called in a vile internet campaign waged against her.

In the process, even though victims of serious sexual offences are granted lifelong anonymity by the courts, her identity was revealed on social networking site Twitter.

Maybe the culprits weren’t aware of the anonymity law or, more likely, given the ferocity of the personal abuse, they just didn’t care.

Either way, three of the men who allegedly named her (there are literally dozens who did so) have now been arrested.

This disgraceful chain of events, precipitated by Evans’s ignominious downfall, tells us as much about the kind of society we have become as the original crime for which the striker was found guilty at Caernarfon Crown Court.

So how did Evans end up in the dock The reason — or, at least an explanation for his behaviour — emerged after he was arrested last year.

He claimed (predictably) that the young woman had consented to sex, telling detectives: ‘We could have had any girl we wanted [in the North Wales nightclub where they had spent the evening].

‘We are footballers, that’s how it is. Footballers are rich, they have got money, that’s what girls like.’

Could there be a more sickening illustration of the reckless arrogance that seems to be in the DNA of many modern footballers It is often the flip side of wealth and celebrity, particularly when it arrives at such a young age.

Evans is from a working-class background in North Wales; his father left home when he was born. Football was the only thing he really knew.

Now just 23, he was earning a cool 20,000 a week at Sheffield United. He drove a Mercedes and a 4×4 Land Rover Defender with personalised number plates bearing his initials CME: Chedwyn Michael Evans.

He had been tipped to join a Premier League club next season and was in the running to represent Team GB at this summer’s Olympics.

High life: Aged just 23, Evans (above) was earning a cool 20,000 a week at Sheffield United and drove a Mercedes and a Land Rover with personalised number plates bearing his initials CME: Chedwyn Michael Evans

High life: Aged just 23, Evans (above) was earning a cool 20,000 a week at Sheffield United and drove a Mercedes and a Land Rover with personalised number plates bearing his initials CME: Chedwyn Michael Evans

He had been leading a glamorous lifestyle with his girlfriend Natasha Massey, 24, a member of the ‘Cheshire Set’, the nouveau riche inhabitants of the ‘golden triangle’ of Wilmslow, Prestbury and Alderley Edge that include soap stars and footballers.

Her father, Karl Massey, is a director of 11 companies, including jewellers Cottrills in Wilmslow. The family home is a 1.5 million property in Alderley Edge, close to the homes of Manchester United stars Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra.

Evans and Miss Massey, who have been dating for two years, were recently pictured together at a ‘Rolex Dinner’ staged by Cotterills, described as ‘an evening of fine dining, fine wines and a tasting of the very best Dom Perignon vintages’.

Astonishingly, Miss Massey and her parents are standing by Evans. This is apparent from a photograph on Miss Massey’s Twitter page, which many women in her position might have hastily removed in the light of what happened.

It shows her holding hands with Evans during a romantic restaurant meal. Underneath, Miss Massey has written gushingly: ‘I have the best family, amazing friends and a gorgeous boyfriend. I’m VERY lucky.’

Evans had been leading a glamorous lifestyle
with his girlfriend Natasha Massey, 24, a member of the ‘Cheshire Set’,
the nouveau riche inhabitants of the ‘golden triangle’ of Wilmslow,
Prestbury and Alderley Edge that include soap stars and footballers

But away from the chic ‘Cheshire Set’ dinner parties, Evans led a very different life. Miss Massey, it emerged during the trial, hated Evans going out because ‘girls throw themselves at you’.

That didn’t stop him, though. As he told police, he was a footballer, he could have anyone he wanted. On any given night of the week, at bars across the country, there is an almost endless supply of women available to the likes of Ched Evans.

It is a world epitomised perhaps by the favourite drink at one Manchester club called Gold Digger — a cocktail named in honour of the girls who flock there hoping to snare a footballer.

The scene of the rape, though, was not a big city but the North Wales seaside town of Rhyl, where Evans grew up and where his mother still lives.

On the weekend of May 29 last year, Evans returned to his home town for the Bank Holiday with his friend Clayton McDonald, a defender with Port Vale.

The two had been friends since they were juniors in the Manchester City Youth Academy. They had also been on holiday to Miami and Ayia Napa in Cyprus.

The pair had something else in common, too: they once had a ‘threesome’ (Evans’s word) when they lived together early in their footballing careers.

Old habits die hard, it seems. Evans, it was alleged in court, had booked a room at the local Premier Inn ‘for the sole purpose of procuring a girl or girls’ during their visit to Rhyl.

Targeted: The girl raped by Evans (pictured left playing for Wales) has also become the victim of a vile internet campaign calling her a 'drunken slag', 'tramp' and 'whore' among other names

Targeted: The girl raped by Evans (pictured left playing for Wales) has also become the victim of a vile internet campaign calling her a 'drunken slag', 'tramp' and 'whore' among other names

They ended up at the Zu bar, but left at different times. Some time before 4am, Clayton McDonald encountered a girl outside a kebab shop in the town’s Queen Street.

She was ‘stumbling’ and ‘slurring’. Hardly surprising in the circumstances. She had drunk two large glasses of wine in just over an hour, along with four double vodkas and a Sambuca. ‘Hi, where are you going’ McDonald asked her. ‘Where are you going’ she replied.’

‘I’m going to my hotel,’ he said. ‘I’m coming with you,’ she told him.

You’d like to think that most men would have resisted the temptation to take a young women in such a state back to their hotel room.

Instead, McDonald got into a taxi with her, then immediately sent Evans a text message.

‘I’ve got a girl,’ he told him. About 15 minutes later, Evans turned up at the hotel.

Guilty: Ched Evans pictured outside Caernafon Crown Court, where he was jailed for five years last week

Guilty: Ched Evans pictured outside Caernafon Crown Court, where he was jailed for five years last week

He was followed by his brother Ryan, 19, a student at Swansea University, and another local lad, Jack Higgins. They remained outside by the window. Police later found blurred video recordings on Higgins’s mobile phone of the ‘sexual activity which was taking place within the room’.

Group sex, it seems, has become acceptable behaviour among some footballers. The sickening culture dates back many years.

The most notorious recent example occurred at Manchester United’s Christmas party in 2007 when up to 100 girls from across the city were bussed to a local hotel.

A witness recalled hearing clapping and cheering from one of the rooms where five or six men were with a girl. The men were heard ‘shrieking like hyenas’ and shouting ‘get in there’.

That infamous night also ended in an allegation of rape against Manchester United defender Jonny Evans. He was arrested, but did not face charges.

Back at the Premier Inn in Rhyl the following morning, the girl woke up alone in a bed. Her clothes were scattered around the floor.

By then, Ched Evans and Clayton McDonald had long gone. McDonald left through the front door, Evans via a fire exit.

Following his arrest, Evans told police that his friend had asked the girl: ‘Can my mate join in’ She had said “yes” straight away, Evans claimed. The jury did not believe him.

McDonald, however, was cleared of rape. His barrister said his client ‘may have behaved in a manner you may find morally repugnant, but it didn’t make him guilty of rape’.

We can only assume that, despite her intoxicated state, the girl’s decision to go back to the hotel constituted consent in the eyes of the jury.

Within hours of the verdict, an internet backlash against the rape victim had begun. Her name was being circulated so widely that it is understood to have been one of the words ‘trending’ (meaning it was one of the most widely used) on Twitter.

A number of footballers joined the campaign, including a team-mate of Ched Evans, who has now been suspended by Sheffield United.

The victim is currently ‘on leave’ from her job.

‘She does not want to speak to the media,’ her sister told us when we contacted the family. ‘She is trying to get on with her life and put all this behind her. It has been a terrible time.’

A friend added: ‘People are slagging her off on the internet and it’s terrifying her. She has become a hate figure. And it’s so unfair when you think about what the poor girl has been through.

‘She was raped and then she had to go through the ordeal of the legal process, which felt like she was being raped all over again.

‘If that wasn’t traumatic enough, she has also been identified. She just wants to get away from here now and rebuild her life.’

The story is already a shameful one. But the perhaps the most shameful episode is still to unfold — at around 5.30pm in Sheffield this afternoon.

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Ched Evans: Only in football would a rapist get a round of applause – Martin Samuel

Only in football would a rapist get a round of applause

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UPDATED:

23:08 GMT, 24 April 2012

The brochures were printed. What else could they have done There it was, glossy as you like: Professional Footballers' Association League One team of the season, strikers Jordan Rhodes (Huddersfield Town) and Ched Evans (Sheffield United).

You can't let the small matter of a five-year rape sentence interfere with a big moment like that. And so it was that, at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Sunday, the name Ched Evans echoed across a room of football's great and good, read out and saluted as if nothing had happened. Hero to rapist and back to hero again, all in a matter of days. Truly this is the best of all possible worlds.

David Jones, the Sky television presenter, ran through the third tier XI to continuous applause that did not rise – thankfully – or falter, even when he reached the name of the PFA member who had left Caernarfon Crown Court for a prison cell just two days previously.

Three cheers: Evans was applauded at the PFA awards after being handed a five-year sentence for rape

Three cheers: Evans was applauded at the PFA awards after being handed a five-year sentence for rape

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'It would have drawn more attention had we pulled him out of the team,' said Bobby Barnes, the PFA's deputy chief executive. We do not condone the offence, but when the voting took place nobody had any knowledge of pending convictions. The award was based on merit. It was voted for by the players and based on his performances on the field.'

'That was a football judgment by fellow professionals,' added chief executive Gordon Taylor. 'It was not a moral judgment. If he had been removed from the team it would have created more of a storm and manipulated the vote. In no way does the PFA condone the offence for which he was convicted.'

And if football keeps saying that, perhaps we will believe it. But you know what It did condone it, ever so slightly, because convicted rapists do not tend to receive the solace of public shows of respect and admiration from their most exalted peers.

Other peers, just 12 of them and not an Armani tux in sight, have already given their appraisal in the courtroom, in Evans' case after only four hours and 52 minutes' deliberation – and there is nothing comforting in their conclusion.

Only in football would a rapist be afforded a round of applause two days after his trial. Those must have been some really expensive brochures. So what could the PFA have done differently For a start, they could have tried behaving like a trade union.

You know, an organisation that leans left by nature and makes decisions based on a loose set of socialist principles, rather than what will look weird on the Sky transmission.

There are female members of the PFA – England's women's team have been in since January 1, 2007, although Fulham's women were the trailblazers, admitted on turning professional in the 2000-01 season – but even now the annual Player of the Year dinner remains a male-dominated affair, eyewitnesses estimating that men accounted for between 85 and 90 per cent of the turn-out.

Maybe had there been a greater feminine presence the decision to lionise Evans would have met resistance. Maybe in a less testosterone-fuelled environment, someone might have pointed out that any decision that necessitates a follow-up statement clarifying the organisation's position on rape is probably the wrong one.

Even if the proofs had been signed off
at the printers, the video montage compiled and the script written, it
is hard to imagine the Unite union being conflicted in similar
circumstances. It is hardly political correctness to withdraw
endorsement of a convicted rapist, and if a trade union cannot be
politically correct, who can

Taylor says that to overlook Evans, or
withdraw him, when the evidence of his commendation was already in the
brochure would have created controversy, but how so Who exactly would
have condemned the PFA for failing to give a very recently convicted
rapist his moment of glory Any war of words would have been mercifully
short, with the weight of public support and sympathy behind the union.

Fans' favourite: Many have different view on the judgment

Fans' favourite: Many have different view on the judgment

Fans' favourite: Many have different view on the judgment

'On the night, we felt it appropriate to leave Evans' name out of the announced team in the light of recent events. We did not wish to alter the vote, which was made prior to the trial, but firmly believe this small acknowledgement of changed circumstance was the right and responsible thing to do,' said a PFA spokesman in my fictional press release.

And who could object to such basic decency Instead, football forged ahead, oblivious to wider sensibilities, again creating the impression that the PFA's members are not so much trade unionists as privileged beneficiaries of an exclusive club. No precedents would have been set by Evans' exclusion, no millstones tied, because this was clearly a unique event.

Instead, the sport's relationship with half the population appears more skewed than ever; as, increasingly, does the stance of the unequivocal, unquestioning modern supporter. On Tuesday, Sheffield United suspended one of Evans' team-mates, Connor Brown, for a particularly repulsive outburst on Twitter.

Following the verdict, he called the
victim a 'moneygrabbing tramp'. 'If u r a slag, u r a slag, don't try
get money from being a slag,' he posted, semi-literately. Brown having
pushed the boundaries of acceptability, the gates opened and a tidal
wave of slurry poured through.

'In a Premier Inn with 2 footballers
after a night out. Expecting tiddlywinks And ruin a poor blokes life !
#golddigger #chedevans #freeched… How can there be any evidence if
the silly bitch can't remember anything… There's some birds in this
pub who would defo get the #ChedEvans treatment…think.
#ThereButForTheGraceOfGodGoI… If nailing a tramp who is too w****red
to say no is a crime then the old bill need to get down to mine with a
set of cuffs… I hope that silly tramp gets properly raped one day…
#chedevans going to jail shows that women will come up with any excuse
to get their 15 minutes of fame. . . #ChedEvansinocent !! #DrunkenSlag -
moneygrabbing whore!!… Nobody knows facts the girl has done this
before! There are now videos of her going around getting smashed by diff
blokes.'

Outburst: Brown has been suspended for comments he made on Twitter

Outburst: Brown has been suspended for comments he made on Twitter

Outburst: Brown has been suspended for comments he made on Twitter

Excuse the English. It does seem like primitive code at times. Personally, I find those who quite cheerfully consider themselves rapists on the sly the most worrying social specimens, but you probably have your own favourite.

And there is more where this came from. Plenty more. Plenty of other people who think because a woman went back to a hotel with one man, she should be expecting to accommodate several, plus a camera, or that getting anonymously raped equates to an especially desperate quest for celebrity.

And she's had sex before! Well, that's
just asking for it. 'Locked away for 5 years for lack of consent,' one
Einstein mused, mystified. Yes, that would be the rape part. If you've
got consent, it's sex. If you haven't, it's rape. It's not exactly a
nuance. The girl Evans raped was drunk. So drunk she fell over in a
kebab shop before agreeing to accompany another footballer, Clayton
McDonald of Port Vale, back to his hotel.

Evans arrived because McDonald spoke to
him on a mobile telephone and announced he had 'got a bird', like he had
been out trapping them with nets. Evans arrived and had sex with the
girl after McDonald, while others attempted to film what happened. The
vulturous McDonald was charged with rape but acquitted, Evans got five
years.

We presume the jury
reasoned that, despite being in an advanced state of incapability,
agreeing to go to the hotel with McDonald was consent, of sorts, and she
may have even initiated the one-night stand. Evans was no part of that
conversation; hence his behaviour was not consensual.

'Supportinghas become anextreme sport'

It can be a minefield, this stuff,
and the evidence from all quarters was rather sordid. Nobody would argue
the young woman was wise, but you will notice the hashtags: #freeched,
#justice for Ched. Now there's an irony. Evans got justice; that is what
unfolded at Caernarfon Crown Court before and during last Friday.
Evans' case was processed through the Crown Prosecution Service.

The
jury considered evidence – more detailed than is publicly available –
and gave its guilty verdict. Judge Merfyn Hughes QC then passed
sentence. That's justice, right there: except football prefers its
bespoke version.

Just
as Joey Barton arrogantly believed the rules of sub-judice impaired his
right to free speech rather than enshrining the right of others to a
fair trial, so the most entrenched supporters treat a courtroom or
tribunal verdict as the start of the debate, not its conclusion.

Considering the fall-out from the
Luis Suarez affair it would be possible to believe the panel appointed
by the FA had returned an open decision, not one of guilt resulting in
an eight-game ban; and whatever happens to John Terry this summer, his
innocence of aiming a racial slur will be disbelieved, or his guilt
unaccepted, according to allegiance.

A courtroom trial no longer provides
closure but is merely the prelude to the inevitable trial by phone-in.
Evans was judged by a jury of his peers, who heard many hours of
evidence. Not enough, apparently. There is another jury, peopled
entirely by fans in red and white stripes, encouraged by our reality
vote, internet messageboard, interactive age to believe that no subject
is concluded until they have had their say.

Not all Sheffield United fans are
blindly loyal in the face of the evidence, but there are enough out
there to make a commotion, or at least demand a retrial – including
3,000 on a Facebook site – because the default position for any
footballer found guilty of anything is to go to appeal (Evans is
considering it, according to his legal team).

Cleared: McDonald was not charged

Cleared: McDonald was not charged

That is where we are these days. Supporting has become an extreme sport. You don't just follow your team any more, you get behind rapists, racists, cheats and violent thugs; a free pass is always on offer providing you wear the right colours. The majority of those wanting Evans free do not extend that latitude to any desire he may have to freely play elsewhere on his release.

This relationship is conditional on his continued devotion to one club and one cause. Many of those crying freedom loudest do not base their views on a painstaking analysis of the minutiae of the case, either; they want Evans released because he is their man and it will benefit their club. Any argument is then tailored to fit that agenda.

Just as half of Merseyside suddenly became authorities in Rioplatense Spanish when the interpretation of this dialect was crucial to the exoneration of Suarez, so the motivations and character of a teenage girl will now be inspected and found wanting. In fact, they already have.

The identity of Evans' victim is out there, on Twitter – and courtesy of some clod, on Sky News, too – because nothing is taboo to a football pressure group with a well-honed sense of injustice. It used to be that your team got the worst referees; now they get the most trumped-up rape charges or the poorest interpretations of South American racial epithets.

The lip-reading community should brace itself for a blue storm if Terry's case goes against him this summer, while the admirable decision of the Manchester United fanzine Red Issue to denounce Ashley Young for diving became nationally newsworthy because of its unfamiliar departure from traditional party lines.

And, of course, to be biased is the nature of the fan. Loyalty, support, standing together is the essence of the role. Yet who did Evans harm, beside his victim His club. The club they all profess to love: Sheffield United. They have enjoyed a good season but go into this weekend in second place, just a point clear of city rivals Sheffield Wednesday with two games remaining.

To this end, they could really do with one of the best strikers in the league, particularly at home to useful, promotion-chasing Stevenage on Saturday. Evans has really let them down. Experience indicates, however, that far from opprobrium in his absence, far from being required to take responsibility for his behaviour and its consequences, Evans will receive vocal support.

Only one Ched Evans That's the problem. The last few days would suggest in his attitudes at least, he is far, far from alone.

You can rely on Robben

There were three Rs at the European Championship in 2004: Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Arjen Robben. We tend to think of Robben as the poor relation because his time at Chelsea is remembered as much for theatricals and injuries as flashes of brilliance and five medals in three seasons (two Premier League, one FA Cup, two League Cup).

Increasingly, it seems, he is unsettled at Bayern Munich and no Barclays Premier League club with ambition should think twice. Older, wiser and already accustomed to English football, Robben remains arguably the finest conventional wide player in Europe.

His goal tally has reached double figures in each of his past three seasons in Germany – with Chelsea, he never got above nine – and Manchester United's wings are already occupied by Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia, Nani and Ryan Giggs, so there is no wriggle room at Old Trafford.

Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool: for what are they waiting

Robben reliant: Barclays Premier League clubs should be scrambling to sign the Dutchman

Robben reliant: Barclays Premier League clubs should be scrambling to sign the Dutchman

Things An England Manager Could Have Been Doing This Week Had The Football Association Got Its Finger Out And Bothered To Appoint One, Part Five:

He could have been compiling his own provisional team for Euro 2012 to be named on May 10; because I know of one candidate for England manager who would consider a player for his starting line-up who wasn't even in Stuart Pearce's last squad, against Holland. Still, never mind.

UK Sport wish to point out that the
143million funding for Olympic sports in 2012 mentioned in Monday's
column includes exchequer as well as lottery money. Happy to oblige.

Image article-2084758-0F66DF8500000578-736_468x286.jpg

Wojciech Szczesny says Aaron Ramsey "looks like rapist"

'You look like a rapist': Szczesny aims misplaced jibe at Arsenal team-mate Ramsey

Wojciech Szczesny apologised after suggesting on Twitter that Aaron Ramsey was dressed 'like a rapist'.

After looking at a picture of his Arsenal team-mate wearing golf gear, Szczesny tweeted: '@aaronjramsey I don't wanna be rude mate but you look like a rapist on that picture! lol'

Day out: Aaron Ramsey (right) in the golf gear that caught the eye

Day out: Aaron Ramsey (right) in the golf gear that caught the eye

Tweets: Wojciech Szczesny

Tweets: Wojciech Szczesny

The Gunners goalkeeper then followed it up with another tweet which read: '@aaronjramsey Looking like a rapist/pedofile isn't a good thing either ;)'

Although the comment was intended as a joke, it could well have offended many of his 317,000 followers.

Ramsey posted the picture of himself wearing a tank top as he prepared for a round of golf after Monday night's 1-0 win over Arsenal.

He later tweeted back: '@13Szczesny13 jealousy is not a good thing mate.'

Szczesny later backtracked, saying: 'I'm sorry if anyone was offended by my previous tweets. There are some thing we should not joke about and I have crossed the line. Sorry!'

Some of his followers were left stunned by the tweets. One said: '1 thinks that you are digging yourself a twitter grave.'

Another wrote: 'The sooner wenger bans you from twitter the better.'

Tweets