The situation surrounding Mason Greenwood has highlighted the worst parts about football, from blatant sexism and misogyny to greed.
Mason Greenwood was a Manchester United player who was suspended pending an investigation into photos and voice recordings that appeared online. The photos and videos showed the bruises and bloodied nose that Greenwood had inflicted on his girlfriend. The audio recording showed Mason threatening his girlfriend after she said no to sex.
Shortly after, the club suspended Greenwood pending investigation, and soon after the Greater Manchester police arrested and charged Greenwood with attempted rape.
Charges dropped and a a return to United
The story goes quiet until 2 February 2023 when the Crown Prosecution Service announced that all charges were being dropped after key witnesses withdrew their involvement.
Last June, Greenwood was spotted back training alone and in early July Greenwood and the same girlfriend announced that they had given birth to their first child.
A group of angry United fans staged a protest outside of Old Trafford on 14 August 2023. Against the lack of a definitive decision regarding Greenwood. This shows that not all United fans want Greenwood back at the club.
On 16 August 2023 Man UTD released their first statement regarding Greenwood. In this statement Man UTD claimed that they were conducting a thorough internal investigation.
There is a lot to digest regarding this statement.
Firstly, the fact that the decision was to lie with internal and external stakeholders just shows how this was never a moral investigation, but rather was based on profit and loss. If Greenwood was a fourth choice right-back in the youth academy would that ever come into the conversation? Absolutely not.
Because Greenwood is good at football and has potential ability-wise, the higher-ups can earn a significant sum of money through merchandise, tournament prize money that he can help them win, and transfer sums if they were to move him on.
Secondly, “partial evidence”. The evidence provided in the public domain is as damning as they come, too graphic and disturbing to be reprinted here.
A second statement was released just five days later on 21 August. It concluded that the evidence provided didn’t show that Greenwood had committed the offences he was originally charged with.
It also claimed that he acknowledges that he has made mistakes. This statement shows how little the higher-ups at the club care about the victim and others who have experienced sexual assaults or rape in the past.
If the evidence against Greenwood can’t provide a full picture, then what can? Greenwood “acknowledging he has made mistakes” is an insane thing to say. What Greenwood did was a lot more than just a “mistake”.
This statement at best shows how spineless United is as a club and at worst how deeply rooted their greed and sexism is.
Hiding out in Spain
On 1 September, Greenwood joined Spanish outfit Getafe C.F on loan. This move is to seemingly revive his career. There has been global backlash from fans for this move directed at both United and Getafe.
On Sunday, 17 September, Greenwood made his debut for Getafe at home against Osasuna in a 3-2 win for the hosts. Osasuna fans chanted the words “Mason Greenwood, die” throughout the game and now the club is looking to face punishment for the chants.
Osasuna will no doubt get a bigger punishment for the chants than Greenwood got for his crimes.
That brings us to today. At time of writing, Greenwood made his first start for Getafe against Athletic Bilbao getting an assist in a 2-2 draw.
At United, before Greenwood there was Ryan Giggs. In 2020, he was accused of two counts of sexual assault against his ex-girlfriend and her younger sister in. He was eventually cleared as his ex-girlfriend was unwilling to give evidence in a retrial.
The incidents haven’t stopped with Greenwood. In September of this year, Antony was accused by his ex-girlfriend and two other women of domestic abuse. His ex-girlfriend said that club doctors at United treated her injuries in the past and covered up what had happened. This demonstrates a disturbing trend at the club: instead of exposing abusers, the club seemingly wishes to silence victims.
Not an isolated incident
The Greenwood case shows us how much money and sexist principals govern football. We can see this with former president of FIFA (the governing body of world football) Sepp Blatter’s comments in 2004 regarding how to increase support for women’s football:
“Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball. They could, for example, have tighter shorts.”
Money grubbing in football can be seen with UEFA’s stance on LGBTQ+ representation in the 2020 European Championships where they did not allow Germany to wear a rainbow captain’s armband or light up the stadium in rainbow colours for the match against Hungary. This was because Hungary had just passed laws in parliament that heavily restricted the rights of LGBTQ+ people and Hungary was a huge financial sponsor for the tournament.
We can even see this sexism among television channels that broadcast matches. Before the Women’s World Cup in 2023 a number of European broadcasters offered FIFA less than 5% of what they paid to broadcast the Men’s World Cup the previous year.
During the medal presentation, after Spain beat England to win the tournament, the former president of the Spanish Football Federation, Luis Rubiales, kissed Spanish player Jenni Hermoso.
Afterwards, Rubiales refused to resign and the whole World Cup winning squad went out on strike citing not only the kiss but Spain’s history of disregarding women’s football.
At first Rubiales refused to resign and was backed by the federation. It took support from clubs, other players and fans – from both the men’s and women’s side of the game – and a strike from the national team and finally roughly a month later Rubiales finally resigned as president.
At the end of the day basic morals or ethics do not govern football. Archaic notions of gender and obscene profit are what decides what happens in this sport. It doesn’t feel like this is getting any better, instead it feels like the situation is getting worse.
A promising development from all this is that fans are starting to get fed up with the state of the game. From the protest outside Old Trafford against Greenwood to the show of support for Jenni Hermoso.
Sometimes things are bigger than “just football”, and we need to unite against these toxic attitudes in our game regardless of the club you support.