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NICOLA Sturgeon has spoken out following growing outrage at a Scottish football team's signing of a man branded a "rapist" by a civil court.
David Goodwillie was signed by Raith Rovers, despite warnings from the club's shirt sponsor and former board member, Val McDermid.
The decision led the Scots crime writer to withdraw her lifelong support of the Kirkcaldy team.
It also led Tyler Rattray, the captain of Raith Rovers women's team, to resign her position in protest.
After 10 long years playing for raith, it’s gutting I have given up now because they have signed someone like this and I want nothing to do with it! It was good being captain of raith while it lasted. https://t.co/5N4hDymGes
— TylerRattray🌻 (@Tyler_RattrayX) February 1, 2022
The footballer wrote on Twitter: "After 10 long years playing for Raith, it’s gutting I have given up now because they have signed someone like this and I want nothing to do with it!
"It was good being captain of Raith while it lasted."
Commenting on the news, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wrote: "The stances that @valmcdermid and women’s team captain @Tyler_RattrayX 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."
The stances that @valmcdermid and women’s team captain @Tyler_RattrayX 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 https://t.co/a10yHafoOo
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) February 1, 2022
The club's supporter liaison officer Margie Robertson has also resigned, as has director Andrew Mill, employability officer Marie Penman, and the club's stadium announcer Johnny MacDonald.
Another director, Bill Clark, also quit after he and Mill were outvoted at a board meeting to discuss signing Goodwillie.
The move to sign the forward from Clyde FC was also condemned by Rape Crisis Scotland.
The charity said in a statement that Raith Rovers was sending "a clear message of disregard to survivors of rape and sexual violence".
"We wonder whether those who took this decision thought for a second about how it may look or feel to survivors to have to watch someone judged to have committed rape be celebrated and applauded," it added.
"This was a bad decision that sends entirely the wrong message, and it should be withdrawn.”
As well as McDermid withdrawing her sponsorship of the club, Tag Games's Paul Farley said his firm would be doing the same. Dundee-based Tag Games currently sponsors the Raith Rovers away kit.
Farley wrote on Twitter: "Have written to @RaithRovers ending @TagGames future shirt, or other, sponsorship and requesting our branding removed from shirts for the remainder of the season. We stand with @valmcdermid and the majority of fans against violence towards women."
Announcing Goodwillie’s signing, Raith Rovers manager John McGlynn said he would be "crucial to the club’s promotion push".
“Every striker at the club will benefit greatly from his experience in matches and training," McGlynn added.
In a statement released following a widespread backlash, the club stated: "The management team is familiar with David’s career and background and – in particular – his footballing ability. That is our foremost consideration, and we believe that he will strengthen the Raith Rovers playing squad."
While Raith Rovers acknowledged the signing had "divided opinion amongst our loyal fans and commercial stakeholders", they insisted they aim to "rebuild that trust". They did not explain how they would do this.
Former Scotland striker Goodwillie, and his former teammate at Dundee United David Robertson, were found to have raped Denise Claire at a flat in Armadale, West Lothian, in the early hours of January 2, 2011.
The judge ruled that Claire was entitled to £100,000 agreed damages, saying she had been “incapable of giving meaningful consent” and that they “each raped her”.
Three judges at the Edinburgh Court of Session threw out an appeal against the ruling in 2017.