PLAYERS’ chief Gordon Taylor has defended the decision to include Ched Evans in the PFA League One team of the season despite his conviction for rape, saying it was a “football decision not a moral decision”.
The Sheffield United striker was jailed for five years on Friday for the rape of a 19-year-old girl but he was still included in the PFA team as members had already cast their votes.
Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association, told Press Association Sport: “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.”
PFA chairman Clarke Carlisle, added in response to criticism of the decision on Twitter: “It was a democratic vote on professional ability, not a moral decision.
“We at the PFA must address this. I’ll ensure [fans’] opinions are heard.”
Wales striker Evans, who hit 35 goals in 42 appearances in all competitions for the Blades, has indicated that he wants to appeal against the conviction.
Sheffield United have launched an internal inquiry into comments made on Twitter by reserve-team player Connor Brown following Evans’ prison sentence last week after being found guilty of rape.
Brown, 19, responded to the news of Evans’ five-year prison sentence by tweeting his support for his team-mate.
A statement released on the club’s official website read: “Sheffield United confirmed today that an internal investigation is under way into social media comments made by reserve-team player Connor Brown following the verdict in the Ched Evans trial.
“The club is aware of a very serious matter regarding comments made through the Twitter account of one of its players. As a result we have launched an inquiry.”
Evans was jailed at Caernarfon Crown Court on Friday after being found guilty of raping the woman who was “too drunk to consent”.
A spokeswoman for North Wales Police said: “We are aware of some comments made on social media sites and we are collating all relevant information.”
Evans admitted having sex with the victim, then aged 19, at a hotel in north Wales last May.
In her evidence, the woman said she has no memory of the incident and the prosecution argued she was too drunk to consent to sexual intercourse.
Evans’ co-accused, Port Vale defender Clayton McDonald, 23, who also admitted having sex with the victim, was found not guilty of the same charge.