Backlash against Raith Rovers' signing of David Goodwillie and support for new women's team named after Val McDermid are two silver linings to this unnecessary dark cloud – Angus Robertson MSP

Scottish football has marked a new chapter with the team formerly known as Raith Rovers Women and Girls playing their first game under the new name of McDermid Ladies, chosen to honour their principal sponsor and lifelong supporter, Val McDermid.

Author Val McDermid speaks to press after a friendly match between McDermid Ladies and Livingston in Kirkcaldy (Picture: Rob Casey/SNS Group)
Author Val McDermid speaks to press after a friendly match between McDermid Ladies and Livingston in Kirkcaldy (Picture: Rob Casey/SNS Group)

The actions to distance themselves from Raith Rovers taken by Val McDermid, Tyler Rattray and the rest of the team over the course of the last week are highly commendable.

Nonetheless, they should never have been necessary in the first place.

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That Raith Rovers thought it was acceptable, and even worse defendable, to sign a man found to have raped a woman by a civil court to their men’s team shows just how far we have yet to progress in the name of equality for women and girls.

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The Kirkcaldy team have now attempted to right their wrong. But we must consider the wider implications of their actions, and the message that has been sent to survivors of sexual assault.

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Football players are seen as role models to so many and we must look at their actions off the pitch, as much as their actions on the pitch.

The silver lining to this unnecessary dark cloud has been the huge support for the women’s team – over £12,000 has been raised to support charities in their name – and the widespread public condemnation of the decision taken by Raith Rovers.

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This has highlighted that there is no place for people who commit or condone actions of sexual violence in our society. This message was reiterated by the McDermid Ladies who donned new strips with branding to support the charities Rape Crisis Scotland and Zero Tolerance.

Angus Robertson is the SNP MSP for Edinburgh Central and Constitution, External Affairs and Culture Secretary

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