North East Wales

Ched Evans: Petition opposes player's place in PFA League One team of the year

Ched Evans
Image caption Wales and Sheffield United striker Ched Evans was jailed for five years

An online petition has been launched to remove Wales and Sheffield United striker Ched Evans from an end-of-season honours list after his rape conviction.

The 23-year-old was named in the Professional Footballers Association (PFA) League One team of the year.

Campaigner Leo Hardt said his inclusion sent out a "very troubling message".

Evans is to appeal after being found guilty of raping a 19-year-old woman in a hotel near Rhyl, Denbighshire.

He was jailed for five years at Caernarfon Crown Court earlier this month.

He was included in the PFA team as members had already cast their votes.

Last week PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor defended the decision, and said: "That was a football judgement by his fellow professionals, it was not a moral judgement and in no way does the PFA condone the offence for which he was convicted.

"If he had been removed from the team it would have created more of a storm and would have been manipulating the vote.

"Votes are cast on footballing ability, obviously everyone is quite disturbed about the conviction and whether that would have changed the vote we just don't know."

Mr Hardt, a school teacher, said the petition had received more than 5,000 signatures.

He said: "I started this campaign because my students see professional footballers as role models and take these awards, like this one from the PFA, as endorsements of their heroes.

"It's staggering that the PFA would chose to endorse a convicted rapist when there are many footballers who are better role models for our young people.

"I urge the PFA to remove him from the list immediately."

On the petition site, Mr Hardt wrote: "I feel that the PFA are sending out a very troubling message.

"As a professional body, they have a responsibility to ensure that the public see them upholding certain values about sports professionals.

"Sign this petition to convince them that honouring Ched Evans is tacitly condoning his behaviour."

North Wales Police investigating the alleged naming of the rape victim on Twitter last week bailed three men.

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