Mason Greenwood, a 20-year-old Manchester United football superstar, also considered to be the next ‘Ronaldo’, is accused of rape and threats to kill the victim who came forward with these allegations on January 30, 2020. The woman claimed that the young English footballer brutally assaulted her and even posted videos showing her bruised body on the internet as evidence of her allegations. In addition to that, audio surfaced of him allegedly coercing a woman for sex while she refused. On the account of these charges, Greenwood was consequently arrested but is now out on bail under pending investigation of the case. The plain masculine and protected bubble of football’s moral dome is challenged. Now, this raises an important question, will this spark a “#metoo” movement across the footballing world?

This is not the first time that a high profile player has been accused of such allegations in recent memory: Gylfi Sigurdsson was suspected of child molestation and sex offenses as Everton were forced to release him, Benjamin Mendy still awaits trial facing charges involving nine counts of rape brought in by six different women. However, Cristiano Ronaldo is probably one of the most celebrated players to be accused of rape. Ronaldo himself admitted, during the early stage of the investigation, that the victim who accused him of rape asked him to stop and said “no” several times but later changed his answer and offered a hefty amount to her to brush these accusations under the carpet. It is not really difficult to join the dots when someone in such a powerful position is accused of rape and the whole case is abruptly dismissed stating that there were not enough pieces of evidence to charge him. Money, money money, always sunny, in the rich man’s world! Although it didn’t stop his fans from celebrating his prophetic return to Old Trafford stadium. Netizens all over the globe, including his fans in India, showered love upon him as if nothing really happened instead of believing the victim. Meanwhile, feminist groups all around the world chanted “Believe Kathryn Mayorga” showing their support to the victim’s claims. 

When fans are asked to take a stand involving their favorite players, more often it’s on the opposite side of the survivors who are often expected to move mountains just to be heard, let alone believed. The allegations against Mason Greenwood appear to deviate slightly from the pattern, but arguably only because of the survivor posting evidence on social media. Still, although Greenwood has been cut from sponsorship partnerships with Nike and removed from FIFA, he remains on Manchester United’s payroll even as the investigation continues.

“There is a 20-year-old male footballer under police investigation and United have shown where their allegiance lies. And it certainly does not feel like it is with any victim or the hundreds of thousands of women and girls who may have seen that harrowing social media content and thought: ‘Who the hell would I turn to if that was me?’” The Athletic writes about Manchester United’s light and stale response to the Mason Greenwood situation.

Mason Greenwood is currently suspended after the allegations of rape against him and these ugly incidents – alleged or otherwise – of blatant misogyny do not happen in isolation of one another. The disrespect football – and society at large – has had towards women for far too long enables such predatory behavior to occur. Misogyny in football fandom is one thing that has never really been seriously dealt with. There is an openly misogynistic attitude towards women’s football among many male football fans. Football has fostered an environment that is so sexist at its core, women are seen as mere objects than people. Their needs have always been secondary to men’s. Even at the best of times, women working in football face a hard time because of their gender. Carlos Santico who is in charge of the Madrid side’s women team was heard, in a leaked recording, encouraging staff to find a girl to gang rape in order to help with team bonding, and yet the misogynistic coach was still allowed to lead the women football group.

The filth in the society is deeply drenched in our culture and our institutions. More specifically, it is rape culture. Fans play a key role in protecting celebrated players from any accountability. Sports stars carry this halo of glory and legacy that makes them too god-like even to touch.

Many speculate that things may be about to change, with the Greenwood allegations. But what would have happened if the survivor didn’t have evidence to protect herself? Everyone is fully aware of how differently things would have panned out — and therein lies the problem.

It would take a large-scale rejection of the traditional values that sports represent. It stopped being healthy long ago, and team spirit is often a facade for team collusion. This change has to come from fans themselves, for it is in their names that football clubs are willing to keep violence under wraps, as long as it happens off the playing field.

Author’s bioEuropa is an art enthusiast, an occasional reader and a musicophile. She’s doing her Master’s in Gender Studies from Ambedkar University Delhi and her interest revolves around the issues faced by marginalized communities. Currently, she is interning at