Warning: Story contains graphic content
Manchester United announced Monday they’re releasing Mason Greenwood following a months-long internal investigation into criminal charges, including attempted rape, against the 21-year-old forward.
Greenwood was suspended by the club in January 2022 after being arrested on suspicion of rape and assault. He was further arrested in February 2022 on suspicion of threats to kill. In October 2022, prosecutors formally charged Greenwood with attempted rape, controlling and coercive behavior, and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
The United Kingdom’s Crown Prosecution Service dropped all charges this past February, saying the withdrawal of key witnesses and development of new material meant there was “no longer a realistic prospect of conviction.”
United then launched their own investigation into the matter.
The Athletic’s Adam Crafton reported last week that United CEO Richard Arnold had informed executives during the first week of August that the club was ready to welcome back Greenwood. Head coach Erik ten Hag and director of football John Murtough had reportedly agreed with the decision. Crafton also reported that United had already planned how Ten Hag would handle questions regarding Greenwood’s inclusion.
The report sparked international outrage from fans, politicians, and charity groups, with each calling on the club to sever all ties to Greenwood.
Rachel Riley, a popular British presenter, said she’d stop supporting United if they brought Greenwood back into the fold. Women’s Aid, a U.K. foundation that provides services to women and children victimized by domestic violence, condemned United publicly. Many of United’s own employees felt a deep sense of shame at the prospect of Greenwood’s possible return, according to The Guardian’s Jamie Jackson.
Now, Greenwood’s set to leave the team he joined when he was seven.
“Based on the evidence available to us, we have concluded that the material posted online did not provide a full picture and that Mason did not commit the offences in respect of which he was originally charged,” read a statement on United’s website. “That said, as Mason publicly acknowledges today, he has made mistakes which he is taking responsibility for.
“All those involved, including Mason, recognize the difficulties with him recommencing his career at Manchester United. It has therefore been mutually agreed that it would be most appropriate for him to do so away from Old Trafford, and we will now work with Mason to achieve that outcome.”
Greenwood insisted he hadn’t committed any crimes.
“The best decision for us all is for me to continue my career away from Old Trafford, where my presence will not be a distraction for the club,” Greenwood, whose last appearance for the club came in a 1-0 win over West Ham United on Jan. 22, 2022, said in a statement obtained by Sky’s Rob Harris.
Club CEO Arnold wrote in an open letter Monday that the victim’s “welfare, wishes, and perspective have been central to the club’s approach” ever since audio and images of the alleged abuse emerged on social media in January 2022.
The posts led to Greenwood’s initial arrest.
In an audio clip transcribed by The Athletic, a man believed to be Greenwood can be heard demanding a woman to “move your f—–g legs up.” When the victim says she doesn’t want to have sex, the man in the clip says, “I don’t give a f–k what you want, you little shit.”
In the months after prosecutors stopped the case, Arnold said the evidence United compiled had determined that Greenwood didn’t commit the crimes he was initially charged with committing. Arnold also said the victim asked police to end criminal proceedings in April 2022.
While Arnold admitted reintegrating Greenwood was considered, he said it was only one of several possibilities discussed.
“Further, this case has provoked strong opinions, and it is my responsibility to minimize any distraction to the unity we are seeking within the club,” he said.
Greenwood, whose contract lasts until June 2025, remains on full pay, according to BBC Sport’s Simon Stone. Though United could still sell or loan out the player, there’s no expectation he’ll play for the club again.
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