BILLIONThe news that Mason Greenwood is leaving Manchester United has ended a six-month investigation by the club into the player’s conduct. According to a statement by the striker and United, his departure has been “agreed” and the club have concluded that he has not committed the crimes for which he is accused. However, serious questions remain about how United’s handling of the situation and whether football clubs can be trusted to act as judges and juries on serious allegations involving regarding their talent or not.
Greenwood was suspended by United in January 2022 following allegations against him online, which led to his arrest and subsequent charges of willful rape, controlling and coercive conduct as well as criminal conduct. hung. CPS dropped the charge in February of this year, citing “a combination of the withdrawal of key witnesses and new material coming to light”.
Since then, like a slow-wearing wheel, the club has spent months in “fact-finding” mode, then planned to bring Greenwood back in phases, a plan that has been abandoned. revealed by staff angry with the club’s decision. Most alarmingly, as part of United’s preparations for his return, the club are said to have drawn up a list of outside figures, including MPs, journalists and organizers. charities, and divided them into categories ranging from “supportive” to “hostile” — including labeling a series of domestic abuse campaigns as “hostile” to Greenwood’s proposal to return.
Women’s Aid call Such “inappropriate” language and the club’s lengthy investigation have silenced many female fans. Some have formed a group to speak out: Female fans oppose Greenwood’s return. The fact that the club delayed the final decision to consult the women’s team by the 11th hour added even more insult to injury – seemingly putting the responsibility for the decision in their own hands and leaving them in danger. online abuse.
As a longtime Manchester United fan and a domestic abuse campaigner, it is difficult for me to see my club drag on with such serious allegations. US officials conducted an internal investigation into the allegations against Greenwood without mentioning consulting independent experts. Can we really expect impartiality from a club when investigating one of its key players, given his enormous financial value? It demonstrates the need to establish an independent body to preside over such serious investigations in the future – one that can provide a rigorous, expert review of all facts, as well as protecting players, employees and key business stakeholders, including fans.
There is no part of me as a United fan that feels proud to support the club, given the way this investigation has been handled. Management has repeatedly failed to centralize fan voices on these issues, which are a bunch of clubs intent on finding an outcome in their favor. Fans who have survived domestic abuse have found the club’s actions traumatic; Some of them told me that the idea of Greenwood running out onto the field again disgusted them so much that it meant they wouldn’t be able to support the team anymore.
Greenwood has consistently denied the charges against him and United’s own investigation concluded that “documents posted online do not provide the full picture and Mason did not commit the crime for which he was initially charged.” , noting that “Mason publicly admitted today that he made a mistake and must take responsibility”. But the handling of the Greenwood case has demonstrated that United are unfit to conduct serious investigations into player conduct in a safe and responsible manner.
Regardless of Greenwood’s plight, an opportunity was missed to raise awareness and improve education about violence and sexual abuse in society, which continues to spread throughout the world of football. The case of unnamed Premier League footballers released on bail amid multiple rape allegations has raised serious questions about any club’s ability to investigate a player. without independent opinion. Involving outside scrutiny into allegations of misconduct offers the solution to cleaning up football’s reputation. Manchester United certainly made the right decision to part ways with Greenwood, but the fact that they can’t seem to come to that decision without being forced shows how much work remains to be done.
David Challen is a domestic abuse campaigner
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