Marseille mayor and fans rally against ‘unspeakable’ Mason Greenwood transfer, citing dropped domestic violence charges

The Mayor of Marseille has urged his city’s main soccer club, Olympique de Marseille, not to sign former Manchester United striker Mason Greenwood, citing the dropped domestic violence and sexual assault charges against him.

Benoît Payan on Tuesday lambasted the proposed move and said of the soccer player, per CNN affiliate BFMTV: “Greenwood’s behavior is unspeakable, unacceptable. Hitting his partner… I saw images that deeply shocked me.”

“Beating up his partner like this is shameful for a man and I don’t think he can have a place on the team,” he added.

“The values ​​of Marseille and the values ​​of Olympique de Marseille are anything but that… It’s anything but… can you imagine, violence against women,” Payan said.

“Do you realize that? And he wants to play for Olympique de Marseille, Greenwood? It’s a disgrace.”

In February, the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced that charges of attempted rape and assault filed against the striker in October 2022 had been dropped, as had a charge of controlling and coercive behavior.

According to the CPS, a combination of key witnesses withdrawing from the investigation and new material coming to light meant there was “no longer a realistic prospect” of Greenwood being convicted.

Greenwood has previously denied the allegations, and last August said in a statement: “I want to start by saying I understand that people will judge me because of what they have seen and heard on social media, and I know people will think the worst.”

“I was brought up to know that violence or abuse in any relationship is wrong, I did not do the things I was accused of, and in February I was cleared of all charges.

“However, I fully accept I made mistakes in my relationship, and I take my share of responsibility for the situations which led to the social media post.”

Benoît Payan called Greenwood's alleged behavior "unspeakable, unacceptable." - Alain Robert/SIPA/AP
Benoît Payan called Greenwood's alleged behavior "unspeakable, unacceptable." - Alain Robert/SIPA/AP

Multiple reports indicate that United and Marseille have agreed to a €30 million (roughly $32.46 million) deal for the transfer of Greenwood, though they did not cite sources.

CNN has reached out to Olympique de Marseille and Greenwood, via Manchester United, for comment. Manchester United declined to comment, with a spokesperson adding: “We will confirm if and when the transfer is completed.”

Greenwood hadn’t played for the Red Devils since he was arrested in January 2022 following the emergence of graphic videos and images on social media. He was loaned to Spanish side Getafe for the 2023/24 season.

Following the charges against Greenwood, Manchester United opened an investigation of their own, eventually making the decision to move Greenwood on citing “difficulties with him recommencing his career” at the club.

Meanwhile, fans of the team took to a popular online forum about the club to express their distaste for the proposed move, writing in an open letter that Greenwood’s joining the club “would be a red line that would irreparably damage the passion that we have for this club.”

“In an area in which the conviction rate is ridiculously low given the reality of sexist and sexual violence, and all the more so in cases in which the perpetrators are powerful and famous men, relying solely on the absence of a conviction in court to give carte blanche to the management to welcome Greenwood with open arms to the Commanderie is, to put it politely, frankly lazy,” the statement – posted to fan discussion board, the OM Forum – noted.

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