Hillsborough case comparison rapped

Published: Friday 9th January 2015 by The News Editor

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The head of the Professional Footballers’ Association is facing calls to resign after he appeared to compare Ched Evans’ situation with the Hillsborough disaster.

Gordon Taylor, PFA chief executive, made the comments in a radio interview after it emerged that Evans’ proposed move to Oldham Athletic had collapsed amid threats to club staff and their families.

Mr Taylor told BBC Radio 5 Live: “He would not be the first person or persons to have been found guilty and maintained their innocence and then been proved right.

“If we are talking about things in football, we know what happened, what was alleged to have happened at Hillsborough. And it’s now unravelling and we are finding it was very different to how it was portrayed at the time – indeed by the police at the time.

“He’s in a very difficult situation because he’s been put through a wringer and the minute you show any sympathy for Ched everybody will say ‘Well, what about the other parties concerned?’

“And that’s why I’m making the point that nobody’s forgetting them.”

Mr Taylor added: “Obviously it’s not a good time for him – he needs support like everybody in this particular incident needs support, not least the woman concerned.”

His comments provoked immediate condemnation on social media, with Liverpool fans leading calls for him to resign.

Paul LFC Foreman‏ posted: “Expect nothing more than a P45 for #GordonTaylor in the morn from @PFA absolutely disgusting comments not even comparable #JFT96.”

Liverpool-based singer Pete Wylie said: “@PFA @LFC should withdraw the players from all activity-including playing-until Gordon Taylor apologises AND resigns+takes Evans too #JFT96.”

Nicola #JFT96‏ said: “#GordonTaylor#JFT96 have been fighting for 26yrs for Justice … Ched Evans convicted in a criminal Court for Rape after 2 appeals! #Resign.”

And Bex Knight tweeted: “Not sure what to make of this … words fail me.”

Ninety-six Liverpool fans died in the Hillsborough Disaster following a crush at the start of the FA Cup semi-final clash with Nottingham Forest in Sheffield on April 15 1989.

After years of fighting by the families of those who died, new inquests into the deaths began last year and are continuing in Warrington.

The PFA has consistently supported Evans’s right to return to football after he served half his five year prison sentence for raping a 19 year-old woman in a hotel in North Wales.

But Sheffield Unites and Oldham Athletic have both abandoned plans to sign him amid a massive public backlash in which sponsors and patrons threatened to walk away if he played.

Evans, 26, who continues to maintain his innocence, yesterday apologised publicly for the first time for “the effects” of the night in the hotel.

But he blamed the “mob rule tactics employed by the more radical elements of our society” for scuppering his planned return to football.

In a statement on his website yesterday, the former Sheffield United and Wales striker said: “It is with great sadness that today I have withdrawn from talks with Oldham Athletic.

“I would like to thank the club, and those who have supported me in my lawful quest to find work. I apologise to the club’s supporters, sponsors and all those affected by the last 72 hours.

“Sadly the ‘mob rule’ tactics employed by the more radical elements of our society and the constant media reporting, has had the desired influence on some sponsors and the club would face significant financial pressure if I joined them.”

Evans went on: “Upon legal advice, I chose not to discuss the events in question. My silence has been misinterpreted as arrogance and I would like to state that this could not be further from the truth.

“I do remain limited at present by what I can say due to the ongoing application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission and whilst I continue to maintain my innocence, I wish to make it clear that I wholeheartedly apologise for the effect that that night in Rhyl has had on many people, especially the woman concerned.

“Finally, it has been claimed that those using social media in an abusive and vindictive way towards this woman are supporters of mine. I wish to make it clear that these people are not my supporters and I condemn their actions entirely and will continue to do so.”

Published: Friday 9th January 2015 by The News Editor

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