Rayo Vallecano and Raith Rovers hiring Santiso and Goodwillie isn’t just a football decision – but moral one

Female players and supporters of the clubs now know exactly where their priorities lie in what’s been another exhausting week for women in football, writes Laura Lawrence.

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It’s been another horrendous week for the subject of violence against women in football. It would be nice if I didn’t have to raise this so often in a weekly column but I feel so strongly about the subject I’m compelled to address what’s happening across football. I’ll put a trigger warning here now because some of the descriptions are graphic.

The week started with a report from Spain that La Liga team, Rayo Vallecano, have hired Carlos Santiso to coach the women’s side. Santiso had been forced to resign as a youth coach previously because of a leaked recording of him remarking to his staff about finding a girl to gang-rape as a team bonding exercise.

The Guardian, reported that Santiso said in the recording: “We need to grab a girl, but overage so we don’t get ourselves into trouble, and to [cargarnosla – which doesn’t translate directly but broadly means to ‘screw her’] there all together. That’s what really brings a staff, a team together. Look at the Arandina lot: they went straight up.”

His reference to the “Arandina lot” refers to case from 2017 where three players from third division Arandina CF were jailed for gang-raping a 15-year-old girl.

Rayo Vallecano have so far remained unrepentant about hiring Santiso despite a backlash from the fan base and the obvious safeguarding issues of the female players about to be coached by him.

It’s not just teams in Spain who have questions to answer about their hiring policies.

Val McDermid, queen of crime writing and Raith Rovers superfan, has withdrawn support from her beloved club because of the signing of David Goodwillie, who was found to have raped a woman by a civil court in 2017. Very close to nominative determinism only I suppose that would be Badcock.

Goodwillie and then-Dundee United team-mate David Robertson later lost their appeal against Lord Armstrong’s ruling that they had raped the woman in 2011.

McDermid, who has a stand named after her father at Stark’s Park, released a statement to say she would be cancelling her shirt sponsorship for next season and withdrawing her support, while Raith’s women’s team captain Tyler Rattray quit the club after 10 years.

McDermid added: “This shatters any claim to be a community or family club. Goodwillie has never expressed a shred of remorse for the rape he committed. His presence at Starks Park is a stain on the club. I’ll be tearing up my season ticket too. This is a heartbreaker for me and many other fans, I know.”

Raith Rovers issued a statement in the hope that it would appease fans. The gist of it being that Goodwillie is a proven goalscorer, he’s been on loan there before and that the club believe in rehabilitation. A laudable thought but the perpetrator has to be willing to accept responsibility for their actions to rehabilitate, and Goodwillie never has.

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The statement ended on a pragmatic note: “First and foremost, this was a football related decision.” And that in a nutshell is why fans are so incensed. This isn’t just a football decision. By hiring these men, Rayo Vallecano and Raith Rovers are making a statement — and it’s loud and clear to the female players and supporters of those clubs. It’s a calculated risk to be managed. Morals be damned.

While Santiso and Goodwillie were being welcomed back into the football fold, Manchester United were suspending Mason Greenwood after his arrest on suspicion of rape, sexual assault, threats to kill and assault. It comes after Great Manchester Police said they “became aware of online social media images and videos posted by a woman reporting incidents of physical violence”. United responded quickly. While the police enquiry is being pursued we can say little else but it’s been a tiring week for women in football and we’re only three days into it.

Follow Laura on Twitter @YICETOR

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