Wales

Ched Evans 'cannot go back to football' Carwyn Jones says

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Media captionThe first minister said Evans was a role model who had not apologised

Welsh footballer Ched Evans "cannot go back" to playing the game after his rape conviction, First Minister Carwyn Jones has said.

Sheffield United are to allow ex-Wales star Evans, 25, to train with them.

Evans was freed last month after serving half of a five-year jail sentence and maintains he is innocent.

Olympic medallist Jessica Ennis-Hill says she wants her name removed from one of the stands at United's Bramall Lane home if Evans is given a contract.

Three club patrons have also resigned while one of United's sponsors has said it will end its association with the club if they re-sign Evans.

Speaking on the BBC's Question Time, Mr Jones said Evans had not apologised to his victim.

He said: "What does it mean for her to see him back in a job where he will earn a lot of money after being a convicted rapist?

Image copyright PA
Image caption Ched Evans maintains his innocence

"If you are a role model and you are convicted of a serious offence such as rape, and you don't apologise at the very least, you don't say you accept that you committed a serious offence, you can't go back to a job like football."

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood, a former probation officer, said: "I think there is a danger of sending a message to young people who look at footballers as role models, there is a danger that we send a message that rape isn't a serious offence."

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams said she would feel "incredibly uncomfortable" if Evans were ever to play for Wales again.

But journalist and columnist Rod Liddle, also on the panel, said it would be "politically-correct hypocrisy" to prevent Evans from playing football.

"There are countless footballers plying their trade - most of them in the lower divisions - who have been convicted of various offences which are egregious and some of them have caused people to lose their lives," said Mr Liddle, associate editor of The Spectator magazine.

"Are you saying that rape is something ... worse than killing someone? That there is one exception to made for this one offence?"

During the programme in Cardiff, the first minister also gave his backing to Labour leader Ed Miliband, who has been under pressure to improve the party's poll ratings with the general election six months away.

He said Mr Miliband's speech on Thursday had been "fantastic".

"We've got an election in May, and we need to win it for the good of the people of this country," said Mr Jones. "Let's be positive."

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