Over 60,000 names have been added to a petition calling for Sheffield United not to re-sign rapist Ched Evans on his release from prison.
The ex-United striker is due to be released in October - mid way through a five year jail term imposed for raping a 19-year-old woman in a hotel bedroom in north Wales.
Karen Ingala Smith, Chief Executive of nia, which runs East London Rape Crisis, said: “Rapists, like most other convicted criminals, have a right to rehabilitation after serving their sentence. But with Ched Evans, we’re not talking about someone simply returning to work, we’re talking about someone who is lauded as a role model and hero.
“Ched Evans, despite a jury returning a unanimous guilty verdict and his losing two appeals against his conviction, is still refusing to accept that he committed a crime. He is still refusing to acknowledge that he raped a 19 year-old. His legal team has recently referred his case to the Independent Criminal Cases Review Commission in yet another effort to clear his name.
“If Sheffield United allow Evans to return, they are sending a very clear message that to them, football is more important than male violence against women and girls.”
Sheffield United has confirmed that representatives have been in touch with Evans during his time behind bars as part of the club’s ‘duty of care’ to the former player.
It says speculation of the player re-joining is ‘misleading’.