Mason Greenwood. Photo: AFP
Mason Greenwood. Photo: AFP
The wait continues to see what the outcome might be after England and Manchester United striker Mason Greenwood was arrested following allegations of domestic abuse, which came to light after disturbing social media posts appeared on the Instagram account of one-time girlfriend Harriet Robson.
Greenwood was arrested when the images of abuse and domestic battery allegations became public at the end of January, while further charges were levelled against the 20-year-old based “on suspicion of sexual assault and threats to kill” before he was later released on bail. It’s since been revealed that his current bail terms will expire on 30 April, but it could be extended.
Greenwood has been indefinitely suspended from Manchester United duties as police continue to investigate the allegations, but he is still being paid his full salary.
Over the years, there have been countless shocking cases of domestic abuse involving other sports stars.
Domestic violence has been described as an epidemic that desperately needs to be eradicated, and below (in no particular order) we reflect on just some other cases that made headlines around the world.
O. J. Simpson
The former American football superstar pled no contest to spousal abuse in 1989, but of course the most infamous case of all relates to his arrest after being charged with the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, which led to one of the most widely publicised trials in history. Although controversially acquitted by a jury, the families of the victims subsequently filed a civil suit, and in 1997 they were awarded a $33.5 million judgment against Simpson for the victims’ wrongful deaths. In a letter that surfaced after her 1994 murder, Simpson was said to have detailed the fear and violence that framed her marriage to Simpson, including a reference to an incident when he “beat the holy hell” out of her. The infamous case also included accounts from officers who were said to have attended to many reports of domestic disturbances at the Simpson residence, and references to a bruised and scratched Nicole stating: “He’s going to kill me”.
The ex-NFL star who once played for the Baltimore Ravens was arrested on assault charges in February 2014 after an altercation with his then-fiance Janay Palmer at a casino in Atlantic City. The entire incident was caught on a video that came into the public domain, casting a widespread spotlight on domestic violence within the NFL. Rice was initially suspended for two games without pay and issued a fine of $58,000, while his employment was then terminated after the video came to light, with a grand jury indicting Rice on third-degree charges of aggravated assault. Although Rice would be reinstated after he successfully appealed the league’s decision, it effectively ended his career, with no teams signing him in the aftermath of the controversy.
The boxing legend has a frightening history of violent cases from the past. In 2002, Mayweather pled guilty to two counts of domestic battery and one unrelated count of misdemeanour battery that occurred between 2001 and 2002. Melissa Brim, the mother of his eldest daughter, had claimed the boxer had punched her in the face during an argument, and he was subsequently handed a suspended six-month jail sentence, a $3,000 fine, 48 hours of community service, and two days of house arrest. Also in the early 2000s, Mayweather was found guilty on two counts of misdemeanour battery and given a suspended prison sentence for each assault following an incident involving two women at a Las Vegas nightclub. On September 9, 2010, it was reported that Mayweather was being sought by police for questioning after his former girlfriend, Josie Harris, filed a domestic battery report against him. Mayweather reached a deal with prosecutors in which he pleaded guilty to misdemeanour battery, and in 2012 he reported to the Clark County Detention Center in Las Vegas to serve his jail term for domestic abuse. After serving two months, he was released.
Last May, the former soccer star appeared at Manchester magistrates court to face charges of assaulting his ex-girlfriend, Kate Greville, and engaging in controlling or coercive behaviour towards. Giggs is accused of causing bodily harm, as well as common assault of her younger sister, Emma Greville, at his home in Worsley in 2020. Further claims heard in court allege that the former Manchester United superstar allegedly kicked a former girlfriend and threw her naked out of their hotel room as part of a pattern of abusive behaviour. Giggs has pled not guilty and denied the allegations, while in January this year the trial was postponed by seven months due a backlog of cases. It will now take place from 8 August onwards.
Towards the end of last year, former NFL player Zac Stacy was arrested for allegedly abusing his former girlfriend, and the mother of his five-month-old child, Kristin Evans. A video of the alleged attack also became public via home footage that shows Stacy attacking Evans in front of their crying five-month old baby, while appearing to hit Evans repeatedly before also pushing her into a TV. Stacey was arrested on two separate felony charges of aggravated assault, but is currently out on bail. Reports have suggested that former NFL running back allegedly told police his ex-girlfriend “staged” the attack, but recently further charges were levelled against him related to other domestic battery incidents from August 2021. The 30-year-old will face hearings into the case later this year.
The former Argentina soccer star, who passed away in 2020, was accused of domestic violence in 2014 after a video was leaked online in which he appeared to strike his then-girlfriend, Rocio Oliva. The video, taken by Oliva, shows Maradona chastising her before her phone moved backward sharply. Oliva can be heard shouting: “Stop Diego, stop, stop hitting me.” Maradona denied the allegations of violence, but acknowledged knocking the phone out of her hand. Just this past week an Argentine judge threw out a lawsuit brought by a Cuban ex-girlfriend of Maradona over alleged people trafficking. During their relationship, which lasted four to five years, she said she was raped and held against her will, while citing several other episodes of physical violence.
30 January: Pictures, an audio clip and a video appear on social media showing Robson bruised and bloodied. The images are later deleted from her account, but spread like wildfire across social media.
30 January: Soon after the incident came to light, Manchester United release a statement to say “we are aware of images and allegations circulating on social media”. Later on that Sunday, United confirm Greenwood has been suspended indefinitely: “Mason Greenwood will not return to training or play matches until further notice.”
30 January: According to overseas website Joe.co.uk, Robson’s father subsequently releases a statement revealing that Robson’s phone was ‘hacked’ and that she didn’t want the pictures to be released. “She has told us her phone has been hacked. We told her to take it down, which she has done but it’s out there now so it is too late,” Robson’s father was quoted as saying by Joe.co.uk. “She is devastated because she didn’t want it released. We have known him (Greenwood) since the under 21s. He has been part of our family for two or three years. Their relationship has not been good for the last few months. She is completely devastated by it all.”
30 January: On Sunday night, news emerges that Greenwood has been arrested on “suspicion of rape and assault”, with the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) stating they had been granted more time to question him.
31 January: Further charges are levelled against Greenwood based “on suspicion of sexual assault and threats to kill”.
1 February: United release a new statement following developments, saying: “Manchester United reiterates its strong condemnation of violence of any kind. As previously communicated, Mason Greenwood will not train with, or play for, the club until further notice.”
2 February: The 20-year-old Greenwood is released on bail while a police investigation continues.
3 February: Manchester United allow supporters who have purchased shirts with Greenwood’s name printed on them to change them for another shirt and name of their choice.
4 February: Harriet Robson expresses gratitude for support after Greenwood arrest in her first public comment since the story came to light. “The last few days have been very difficult and I’m taking a break from social media while the police make their investigations,” she writes.
7 February: Nike confirms that it has terminated its endorsement agreement with the England and Manchester United striker.
8 February: Reports suggest that the Man United changeroom has been divided over the manner in which the Greenwood case has been handled by the club, while players including Edinson Cavani, Cristiano Ronaldo and Victor Lindelof are said to have cut off the 20-year-old from social media.
11 February: It’s reported that Greenwood will receive no compensation after being dropped from his Nike sponsorship deal, but will continue to be paid his £75,000-a-week salary from United pending the outcome of any criminal proceedings.
24 February: Reports emerge to suggest Greenwood has been paid £267 850 (R5.5 million) in wages since being suspended by the club on rape allegations.
9 March: More than a month since the allegations came to light, the police investigation is said to be ongoing.
*Content warning: This article contains graphic images and viewer discretion is advised.