Not that we don’t know the answer, but it will make for even more awkward viewing than United’s on-field performances have been anyway.
You probably missed it, as it took place in the wee hours, but Manchester United forward Mason Greenwood was arrested on Sunday on charges of rape and assault. He has denied the claim. His girlfriend posted images to her instagram of the injuries she says Greenwood caused, as well as an audio recording of the sexual assault. She deleted them soon after, but those who saw or heard them said they were graphic and horrible. The police thought the post was enough to arrest Greenwood.
It took United more than a day to officially suspend Greenwood, which they did in the middle of the night, U.K. time, last night. At first, they merely said he would not play or practice with the team “until further notice.” They are also not providing Greenwood with legal counsel. Nike has also suspended their dealings with Greenwood.
The easy argument is to say that there are pictures and audio of Greenwood to make the case against him, while no such thing ever existed in the two separate allegations made against Ronaldo (Ronaldo denied both, and charges were never filed in either London or Las Vegas after investigation). But is the threshold to actually do the bare minimum of punishment to a player accused of these heinous crimes that a woman has to show the world her injuries? Record her horror? That’s what it’s going to take?
You can’t even label this one as a case of a less important player being more easily chucked aside. Greenwood has started 16 of United’s Premier League games. He has five goals, only three behind Ronaldo. But as we know, he didn’t sell as many shirts or give United the headlines to cover for the Glazer Family vaudevillian running of the club.
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Nike can ask themselves all the same questions, which it won’t, as it still has a contract with Ronaldo. He reportedly makes $30 million a year from the shoe company. But they were happy to drop Greenwood, who is significantly less valuable. At the time, Nike said it was “deeply concerned.” So concerned it did… nothing.
The easy answer for United is that it’ll wait long enough that it will all take care of itself. Greenwood won’t play again this season, minimum. If United can’t finish in the top four, Ronaldo won’t wait around to not play in the Champions League and will move on somewhere else, and all questions about having both of them on the payroll will go with them.
But still, as step-ladder as it was, Manchester United immediately cast out one player accused of rape when the news broke. They breathlessly chased another to join the club in August, and made him the center of their universe. It’s hard to believe they had that much growth in four months.
The club just didn’t want to show any impetus. They couldn’t avoid the story about Greenwood. But what it took to get Greenwood out of the club is asking far too much of survivors. Exposing oneself just publicly, without graphic evidence of the crimes allegedly committed, puts survivors in the crosshairs of god knows how many monsters and slime to be harassed. This isn’t the burden we can place on them. And if it is, how many survivors will be able to carry it? Won’t more victims be even more scared to say anything if they’re not willing to go that far?
United have opened this door. But they’ll never actually walk through it.