Should a Rape Allegation Ruin an Athlete’s Career if Found Innocent?

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Rape allegations throw any athlete’s career into disrepute. Due to the position they are in, being role models for many, they need to be condemned in order to send the correct message to the public. This means that they lose sponsorship, the places they held within their sports clubs, and their reputations are left in tatters. This is something critics completely agree with, for good reason, but what happens if these allegations are found to be false? What if the athlete accused is the acquitted of the crime?

A prime example of this in recent times is the footballer Ched Evans. He was accused of raping a woman who was too drunk to consent. However, in a retrial in 2016 Evans was found not guilty, after spending two and half years in prison. Two months after leaving prison he signed a new contract with Chesterfield FC. This proves that his career has not been ruined by these allegations, as he is still able to work in the professional field that he always has.

His career has begun to be harmed due to his damaged reputation. There are still many people who believe that Evans is guilty and judge him with this in mind. So in a sense his career is ruined, as instead of being remembered for his footballing skills, like many other footballers such as Steven Gerrard and Marcus Rashford, he will forever be remembered as the footballer accused of rape.

Is this fair though? Surely being found not guilty with evidence to support him should be enough for the football community to forget about these accusations. The woman in question should be the one who is judged for sending a man to jail for so long when he was innocent. I do not think an athlete’s career should be ruined due to an allegation being made because if they have proven themselves to be innocent they should be allowed to carry on with their professional lives as normal. Would someone who is not famous be judged as much as athlete’s are?

The sad reality of this situation is that although they shouldn’t, rape allegations do destroy an athlete’s career. With their reputation being irreparable brands will not reach out to them for sponsorship and the possibility of getting coaching, commentary or presenting jobs when their sporting careers are over is very low due to the allegations. They, of course, do return to their athletic fields, just as Evans as, so they do still have careers. But the glory and success that comes with being a famous sporting personality is somewhat out of reach now due to what has been said about them in the past.

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