Clive Efford, Labour's Shadow Sports Minister, has written to the FA asking them to intervene to prevent Ched Evans returning to play football.
Clive Efford MP said:
“Ched Evans has been convicted of a serious offence and I would urge any football club to listen to the widespread public opposition to him returning to football.
“The decision on whether players should return to football after committing serious offences is not a matter solely for individual clubs and I have asked the FA to refuse his registration when Oldham Athletic approach them.”
Notes to editors
The full text of Clive Efford’s letter to Greg Dyke is below:
PO Box 1966
7 Jan 2015
As you are aware, there has been a great deal of comment regarding the possibility that Ched Evans will sign for Oldham Athletic this week. This has major implications for football as a whole and I do not believe that policy on a matter such as this should be determined by the board directors of an individual club. I am disappointed that the FA has not intervened to avoid this situation.
Football has done a great deal to address areas of concern in our communities such as racism and social exclusion and has possibly achieved more on these issues than any other single organisation. The ‘Kick it Out’ campaign has been at the forefront of challenging racism and is an excellent example of the positive impact football has in communities across the country. But, equalities as an issue goes beyond racism and requires a consistent approach towards all forms of discrimination whether it is based on gender, sexuality, religion or race.
I have been very supportive of the FA’s initiatives to increase participation in football among girls and women.
According to your own figures, the number of women’s and girls’ teams has grown from 80 in 1992 to 6,000 today. In 2012 you launched your ‘Game Changer’ strategy to create an Elite Performance Unit, aimed at developing the women’s game at the highest level. Women’s and girl’s football is now the third biggest team sport in the country.
I fear all of this is undermined by the failure of the FA to act in this situation. I believe the FA has failed to appreciate the seriousness of the crime for which Ched Evans has been convicted and the consequences that his return to the game will have on people’s impressions of the sport and its governing body. This is not consistent with the good work that the FA has done to promote the game as a sport for women and the reputation it has built in this regard could prove hard to regain.
The directors of Oldham Athletic will be under pressure to take decisions that they feel are in the short term interests of their club. The question of whether a player convicted of rape should be allowed to return to professional football is not one that should be decided at this level. It has wider implications for the game as a whole and should have been decided by the games governing body.
Given the serious nature of the crime this matter should have been referred to the FA’s Inclusion Advisory Board (IAB) to consider. It would have been possible for the IAB to make a decision in relation to the specific conviction of rape and state clearly that once found guilty of this crime a player will lose their FA registration. Where there is an appeal that may overturn the conviction, the FA will need to review its position.
The IAB should carry out a comprehensive review to set out which other crimes will lead to a player losing their registration to play in the future. There is also the issue of whether a player should be allowed play while they are on parole.
I should also be grateful if you could clarify the process for registering a player when he signs for a new club? Oldham Athletic will be seeking to register Ched Evans with the FA as their player if they decide to sign him. I urge you to refuse that request.
Can you confirm that you have had no contact from Oldham Athletic to seek confirmation that the FA would be willing to allow them to register Ched Evans if they go ahead and sign him? If such confirmation was asked and given can you state who took that decision?
I am sure you share my concerns about the impact this will have on people’s perception of football and the governance of the game. I look forward to the opportunity to discuss these issues in the near future.
Clive Efford MP