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The boss of Scottish (SWF) says Raith Rovers’ signing of rapist David Goodwillie will have ‘devastating consequences’ for females in the sport and the club has ‘tarnished its reputation’
Goodwillie, 32, was ordered to pay £100,000 in damages by a judge in a civil court case in 2017 after he was found to have raped a woman at a flat in West Lothian six years ago.
The striker joined Raith in a deadline-day transfer on Monday, but the move has been met with a furious backlash which has led to several key staff and sponsors terminating their association with the club.
Tyler Rattray, captain of Raith’s women’s team, has also quit in protest, while former Prime Minister and fan Gordon Brown has made clear he does ‘not support’ Goodwillie’s signing.
Val McDermid, the best-selling Scottish crime writer who had been a lifelong fan and a key financial backer for the Kirkcaldy club, also withdrew her support.
Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon backed their decisions today.
She wrote on Twitter: ‘The stances that Val McDermid and women’s team captain Tyler Rattray have taken are principled — though difficult for both of them.
‘But the fact they’re in this position at all reminds us that our society still has a way to go to make zero tolerance of sexual violence a reality.’
It comes as SWF chief executive Aileen Campbell described the signing as a ‘badly misjudged’ decision today.
Raith Rovers’ signing of David Goodwillie has been branded as ‘disgusting and despicable’
The 32-year-old, pictured bottom row, centre, joined Raith in a deadline-day move from Clyde
Scottish Women’s Football chief executive Aileen Campbell (pictured), former Communities Secretary, described the signing as a ‘badly misjudged’ decision today
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, pictured during her visit to Scottish Opera on Wednesday, has also given support to those withdrawing from the club
Goodwillie’s signing was heralded by Raith – but fans and others have turned against them
She told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme the move ‘sends the wrong signal, message, to society and particularly to women’.
Ms Campbell added: ‘The fact that the women’s club has lost its captain as a result of this is devastating, that would be a devastating consequence to lose women from the game as a result of this poor decision.’
SWF has also ‘offered support to the women’s club and the women’s team to make sure we can help them through this’, she said.
An online petition has been set up calling for the player to be removed from the club and to “ensure that future signing decisions can continue to be family-friendly”.
Goodwillie was ordered to pay damages alongside now retired footballer David Robertson. No charges were brought against either of the pair.
In a statement defending the move, Raith insisted the signing was ‘first and foremost…a football related decision’.
It added that Goodwillie was a ‘proven goal scorer’ who would ‘strengthen the playing quad’.
However, Ms Campbell said: ‘We can’t shy away from the fact it is a privilege to work in football and football has real influence and sway, particularly over young fans, and that is why this decision feels poor.
‘It does have impact.We can concentrate on the actions on the pitch, but we can’t shy away from the fact that football has huge influence off the pitch as well.
‘We should endeavour to make sure that influence is a positive one.’
She also lent her support to McDermid and Rattray, adding ‘society doesn’t want to accept violence against women’.
Asked about her view on the football club, Ms Campbell added: ‘Given they have lost the support of high-profile fans, Val McDermid, that they have lost the captain of the women’s team, they have lost volunteers, they have lost fans, they have lost staff, they really do need to think about whether this has been worth it.
Scottish crime writer Val McDermid has withdrawn her support for Raith Rovers following the signing of Goodwillie
Val McDermid said the decision had ‘shattered’ the club’s reputation and she had torn up her sponsorship deal and her season ticket
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon back her decision – and the decision by the team’s women’s captain to quit
Tyler Rattray, captain of Raith’s Women’s team, quit the club after serving 10 years as a player