MFA would not stand in the way of Ched Evans’ signing - Darmanin Demajo

MFA President Norman Darmanin Demajo says convicted rapist Ched Evans should be given second chance; says MFA cannot bar a club from signing former convict.

Former Sheffield United striker Ched Evans
Former Sheffield United striker Ched Evans
MFA President Norman Darmanin Demajo
MFA President Norman Darmanin Demajo

The Malta Football Association (MFA) cannot bar a club from signing a former convict, and that if convicted rapist Ched Evans were to sign with Hibernians, the deal would not be scuppered, MFA President Norman Darmanin Demajo said.

“The MFA has no right to stop a player or a former convict from playing or from joining a football club in Malta. Neither its statute nor its regulations allow it do so, it is entirely up to a club to decide who to sign,” Darmanin Demajo said.

Speaking to MaltaToday, the MFA president insisted that if Hibernians FC were to sign former Sheffield United Striker and convicted rapist Ched Evans, the deal would not be shot down, as Evans “deserves a second chance.”

“I personally believe that a football’s career should not be ruined for a mistake. He was punished and he did his sentence so he should have a second chance, the MFA will not stand in his way,” he said.

Asked whether Maltese football had ever seen former convicts play, Darmanin Demajo said that he is unaware of any cases that might have occurred during the past 30 years. Notwithstanding this, he said that unless a player is banned from playing football, a former convict would be allowed to reignite his career.

On Saturday, former Manchester City and Wales striker Ched Evans was linked to Maltese club Hibernians. The controversial move provoked conflicting reactions over whether a convicted rapist should be given the opportunity to reignite his footballing career. Justice Minister Owen Bonnici said Evans should be given a second chance, but on the other hand, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat warned that the decision will “define the club and to an extent Malta.”

Denying Muscat’s opinion that Ched Evans’s signing could tarnish Malta’s reputation, Norman Darmanin Demajo said it would be “exaggerated” for a footballer to define the country and its football.

“Unlike the British, Malta can capitalise on the positive aspect arising from this situation and afford him an opportunity to reform and reignite his career,” the MFA president said while adding that it would be unfair for a former convict to be condemned for life.

While insisting that the issue should not have involved politics, he underlined that Evans should be forgiven and that society should afford a convict the opportunity to rehabilitate and reintegrate.

Asked whether a potential deal  for Evans would taint the image of a footballer being a “role model”, Darmanin Demajo argued that the perception that all Maltese footballers should be “role models” is far from being the truth, as sine are far from being so.

“Instead of condemning Evans for life, Malta should use his experience to channel the positive aspects to show the world that sport can be a platform for a former convict to reform,” he said.

However, when asked what would his reaction if a footballer were to be convicted of paedophilia or murder, Darmanin Demajo slightly change his tone, saying that would be a different case.

Evans, 26, was released from prison in October after serving half of a five-year sentence for raping a 19-year-old woman in a hotel room back in 2011. Following his release, he maintained his innocence, saying the sex was consensual. Hibernians, currently at the top of the Maltese Premier League, revealed on Friday that they have offered Evans a six-month contract. A spokesman for Evans has denied that the player has received a contract offer from the Maltese club, dubbing the story "false". 

However, the club’s sponsor, Stephan Vaughan, said Evans has been offered a deal until the end of the season.

However, the club’s attempt to sign the striker were shot down by the UK Ministry of Justice which said that Evans, as a convicted sex offender on licence, was barred from working outside the UK, while on Sunday, it was reported that he is on the verge of joining League One team Oldham.