Sexual offence is a grievous phenomenon against the personality of feminine. It is not only traumatises the psychological mind of its victim but also disrupts their livelihood. Countries over the world regulate the control of this devilish phenomenon under their municipal criminal law. Hence, provide a highly severed sanction for its perpetrators, punishable with felony.
Topical of these offences, rape, is prohibited under section 357 and section 282 of criminal and penal code of the Sourthern and Northern Nigeria respectively. And punishable with life imprisonment under section 358 and 283 of the same laws.
Over the years, football athletes have experienced an account of sexual allegations, justifying a negative turn around on their career. From the past generation to the recent one, pro to the rising stars lies a pool of sexual malady.
Extortion, Acquittal and Dismantle
In 2010, football great and Portuguese Superstar Cristiano Ronaldo was alleged of a rape offence by an American woman before his agency dismissed the claim as ‘journalistic fiction’. However, Ronaldo’s lawyers and a mediator together with the woman resolved to an out-of-court settlement.
That same year, Former teacher and model Kathryn Mayorga objected to the validity of the $375,000 (£292,537) the woman received from the football star.
Also in 2019, a Brazilian lady, Trindade, filed a police report against Brazilian star Neymar Junior. The lady claimed to have been raped by the Paris Saint Germain (PSG) star when she visited him at hotel in France upon sponsorship of her flight from Brazil by the player.
In order to defend himself, Neymar published numerous messages he exchanged with the lady on his social media handle, including topless pictures of the complainant. Thus, his teammates suggested any sexual intimacy between the two parties is consensual.
The soccer star was investigated by the Brazilian Police Authority while preparing for 2020 Copa America before the prosecutor was advised to close the case due to lack of evidence against the player. The woman was later charged with fraud, extortion and slander by the Brazilian police.
Similarly, in 2014, two French professionals; Frank Ribery and Karim Benzema were acquitted of a criminal trial by a French court on a charge of having carnal knowledge of an underaged prostitute, Zahia Dehar.
Though these players kept their heads up and were able to overcome the accusations without effect on their profession, the memory stays with them forever as history makes reference to it. Unlike the former, the sickening conditions forced some players to become a crippled talents.
Greenwood’s Future Undecided
Before the commencement of a criminal litigation against an English international, Mason Greenwood in 2022, he had established his prominence at Manchester United, one of the biggest teams in the English Premier League. He was promoted from the junior team in 2018 at the age of 16 years to become United’s big-game player.
Within the four years of his debut, he recorded tremendous achievements with the Red Devils scoring 32 goals at the age of 20-years-old. He also finished fifth position for the 2021 Ballon D’or young player of the year, coming behind Nuno Mendes, Jamal Musiala, Jude Bellingham and Pedri.
However, in 30 January, 2022, Greenwood was arrested by Greater Manchester Police on suspicion of rape and assault of a woman thus, suspended by Manchester United. By that time, his ambassadorial career was halted as Nike suspended its relationship with him, EA Sports (a video game company) also removed him from its FIFA game before Nike finally stopped sponsoring him in February, 2022.
The United’s forward was on bail from February to June until he was rearrested on 15 October 2022 and prosecuted on 19 October in a private hearing before Minshull Street Crown Court for an attempted rape of an alleged incident on 22 October 2021, assault occasioning actual bodily harm for an alleged incident in December, 2021, and engaging in controlling and coercive behaviour from November, 2018.
On 2 February 2023, Crown Prosecution Service dropped all charges against Greenwood together with a withdrawal of all key witnesses and any new material that may come to light.
During this period Mason Greenwood’s career witnessed a setback as he registered no appearance for his club throughout his ordeal. His future is also undecided because his name is not among the Manchester United team list released by Erik Ten Hag for the upcoming session campaign.
From Man City to Lorient, a Tales of Benjamin Mendy
Similar to his peer, Benjamin Mendy, 2018 World Cup winner and former Manchester City star was another player who was recently discharged of sexual offences.
On 26 August 2021, he was remanded in custody after he was charged with four counts of rape offences and a count of sexual assault by the Cheshire Constabulary. Subsequently, he was charged with additional three more charges of rape while in custody.
On 7 January 2022, Mendy was released on bail with conditions to live at his home in Prestbury, Cheshire together with submission of his international passport and not to contact the complainants. On May 22, the footballer denied all the allegations against him while his trial commenced on 10 August 2022 at Cheshire Crown Court.
On 13 September 2022, Mendy found not guilty of a charge of rape and sexual assault of a 19-year-old lady on the recommendation of Judge Stephen Everette after failure of prosecution to sustained the guilty verdict. This was as a result of the manifestation of a footage where the complainant was having consensual cohabitation with Mendy co-accused, Mattuire.
On 13 January 2023, Benjamin found not guilty of seven charge counts (six rape accusations and one allegation of sexual assault). While his co-accused Louis Saha Mattuire was also found not guilty of six counts of rape and three charges of sexual assault during a unanimous verdict of the Cheshire Crown Court jury.
On 26 June 2023 France-defender was retried of his remaining charges. And two weeks later, he was cleared of the long term legal process commenced from August 2021 to July 2023 by the English court after he found not guilty together with his co-accused of an offence of raping and sexually assaulting two women in a separate trials.
A week later, the 29-years-old defender joined a Ligue 1 side F.C Lorient after his former club Manchester City terminated his contract upon expiration of his deal in June.
Benjamin Mendy, one time Premier League winner, £52 million most valuable defender in the world at the time he was signed by Man. City could have won everything with the club, especially their recent treble accomplishment where they clinched their first ever UEFA Champions League in the previous season. Hence, had a turn around in his career but his long term legal process hampered his progress and sent him back to minnows.
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