England footballer Mason Greenwood was being questioned into the night by police after being arrested over allegations of rape and assault.
The Manchester United forward, 20, remained in custody early today having been detained yesterday after distressing pictures and audio circulated on social media alleging he attacked an 18-year-old student.
The images appeared to show the woman bloodied and bruised.
Another post included a voice recording of a conversation between a man and a woman, dated October last year, which purportedly chronicled the woman being attacked.
Within hours of the messages emerging and spreading across social media, his club put out a statement saying it was aware of them and they were making inquiries ‘to establish the full circumstances’.
It added: ‘Manchester United does not condone violence of any kind.’
Mason Greenwood (pictured with England manager Gareth Southgate) is at the centre of a police investigation and has been arrested on suspicion of rape and assault this weekend after allegations appeared on social media accompanied with video
Pictured: A police crime scene investigation van parked outside Mason Greenwood’s house on Sunday evening
The woman was interviewed by plain clothes officers at her family home yesterday afternoon.
A spokesman for Greater Manchester police said they had launched an investigation after being made ‘aware of online social media images and videos posted by a woman reporting incidents of physical violence’.
He added: ‘Following inquiries we can confirm a man in his 20s has since been arrested on suspicion of rape and assault. He remains in custody for questioning. Inquiries are ongoing.’
Forensic officers also arrived at Greenwood’s £2million mansion in the upmarket village of Bowdon, Cheshire, yesterday evening.
Manchester United suspended the rising star, who earns a reported £75,000 a week, shortly before news of his arrest emerged.
In a second statement, the club hierarchy said the player would ‘not return to training or play matches until further notice’.
Pictured: Crime Scene Investigation unit arrived at Mason Greenwood’s house on Sunday evening as he was arrested
Police and security stand outside the home of Manchester United Mason Greenwood as investigation was launched yesterday
News of Greenwood’s suspension and arrest is also likely to put his lucrative sponsorship deal with Nike at risk. Yesterday a spokesman for the sports brand said they were ‘deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations’ and would be ‘closely monitoring the situation’.
The allegedly incriminating posts were online for just a few hours before being deleted.
The woman’s father told the Daily Mail his daughter believed her Instagram account had been hacked.
Speaking from his £1million home in an upmarket Cheshire village, the company director, 61, described the allegations as ‘dreadful’.
‘I’m just coming to terms with it,’ he said. ‘As a father you don’t want to know things like this are happening to your daughter. She is devastated. But she is safe. It is in the hands of the police now.’
Meanwhile, the woman’s older sister told the Sun she was shocked by the news and described the audio clip shared online as ‘disturbing’.
Pictured: Manchester United footballer Mason Greenwood was arrested this weekend and remained in custody last night
She added: ‘She’s a lovely young girl and no one deserves that. If there isn’t a full investigation by the police then there is something wrong.
I put my trust in them to do the right thing […] I just hope that my sister gets the justice that she deserves – that’s all that matters.’
Campaigners and women’s charities also welcomed the investigation into the ‘shocking’ allegations.
Former chief prosecutor Nazir Afzal said the pictures, and particularly the voice note, were ‘shocking in the extreme’. ‘Manchester United must deal with it but it is also clearly a police matter,’ he said.
Greenwood was born in Bradford in October 2001. At four, he won a local newspaper’s modelling competition and was awarded a £50 voucher and a year with an agency.
Two years later, he joined Manchester United’s famed academy, hoping to follow in the footsteps of previous graduates such as David Beckham and Paul Scholes, having attracted attention by scoring ten goals on his debut for a local youth team.
Mason Greenwood, left, playing for Manchester United at Old Trafford on January 22 in a 1-0 victory against West Ham
In March 2019 he became the youngest footballer to play for United in the Champions League, aged 17.
Greenwood has made 129 appearances for the Old Trafford club, scoring 35 goals. He has the number 11 shirt previously worn by Ryan Giggs.
England manager Gareth Southgate gave him his first cap at the age of just 18 in 2020 – a substitute appearance in a 1-0 away win against Iceland.
However, he was sent home in disgrace following the match after he and team-mate Phil Foden, also 20, broke coronavirus rules by sneaking two Icelandic students into the team hotel.
They were both fined by police in Reykjavik and Greenwood apologised, saying he only had himself to blame for the ‘huge mistake’.
Southgate – who described the pair as ‘naive’ – said that Greenwood would not play for England until 2022 after he was forced to withdraw from the squad for last year’s Euros with injury.
Weeks after the Iceland incident, he was spoken to by Man United officials amid concerns he was not turning up to training on time.
Will this be football’s #MeToo moment? This young man is innocent until proven guilty… but aspects of this modern morality tale have an all-too-familiar tone, writes AMANDA PLATELL
Once seen, the harrowing videos and audio recordings are not forgotten. The man accused in this disturbing case is the Manchester United star Mason Greenwood, 20.
One of the top young footballers in the country, Greenwood’s career is in the balance: suspended by his club and facing being dropped by Nike, the sportswear company that gave him millions to plug its boots.
Of course, this young man is innocent until proven guilty.
There remains much we don’t know about his case, and the summary judgments of the court of social media are a terrible substitute for the real thing. But aspects of this modern morality tale nonetheless have an all-too-familiar tone.
We need to be honest – and I say this as a lifelong fan of the beautiful game. English football has a misogyny problem.
The number of Premier League greats who have cheated, lied, slept around and drank themselves stupid form a line-up as depressing as anything you’ll find at the most incompetent Saturday kickabout. ‘Scoring off the pitch’ is their cheap slang for having an affair, ‘playing the field’ another.
Mason Greenwood (pictured with England manager Gareth Southgate in 2020) is at the centre of a police investigation
And what an irony that this problem has worsened as football makes ever louder noises about its achingly ‘progressive’ values! The rainbow laces, the pre-match pantomime of ‘taking the knee’ – too often, it looks like lazy and hypocritical virtue-signalling. Judge these players by their actions off the pitch, not on it.
Back in 2020 Manchester City star Kyle Walker broke strict lockdown rules to host a three-hour ‘sex party’ with two call girls and another ‘friend’. The next day, he piously urged his fans to stay home and protect the NHS. But then he was only following in the footsteps of so many football legends.
Manchester United’s Ryan Giggs was even alleged to have had an affair with his sister-in-law. Then there’s Wayne Rooney, a serial cheater who sank to using prostitutes while his wife Coleen was pregnant: yet somehow, that long-suffering girl always took him back.
And let’s not forget washed-up wife-beater Paul Gascoigne, once the golden boy of British football until it emerged that he headbutted his wife Sheryl and threw her to the floor, breaking her finger.
I could list far more: the point is that the gentlemanly heyday of Nobby Stiles feels a very long time ago.
Today, these preening prima donnas are worshipped from the playground up. Because they can kick a ball better than the other kids, their peers admire them, the girls fancy them and their egos whisper to them that they’re better than everyone else.
Back in 2020 Man City star Kyle Walker (pictured right) broke lockdown rules to host a ‘sex party’ with two call girls and another ‘friend’ while Manchester United’s Ryan Giggs (pictured left) was alleged to have had an affair with his sister-in-law
Throw in the hyper-masculine environment of sport and the unimaginable fortunes handed to working-class kids – and before long, too many think they can treat everyone – especially women – like the dirt they scrape from their boots after the game.
Now, at last, a scandal has shaken this sport to its foundations. And with it, a burning question: could this finally be football’s MeToo?
With cinema’s disgraced predator Harvey Weinstein, first two brave women came forward to allege terrible abuse – then, emboldened, more found the courage to name other names.
The floodgates burst and a mighty industry reckoned with its toxic past.
If any good comes from this latest case, it will be to shine a spotlight into the locker room, where the men trade insults and banter – and learn as teenagers that women are objects for their gratification.
Nothing else will drag this game, free-kicking and screaming, into this century. And that will involve men and many impressionable girls taking a long, hard look in the mirror.
Yes, every player is answerable for his behaviour. No, there is never an excuse for abuse of any kind.
But this sorry culture has also created an army of young female fans desperate to snare a star. I’ve seen these girls working nightclubs footballers frequent. I don’t judge them: a top-flight player can be a meal-ticket for life, whether or not you marry him.
Yet by luring these men, sleeping with them and all too often selling the salacious details to the Press, they have helped to foster football’s ugly underbelly.
I’ve watched the demise of a once-great game and seen it sullied by lust, money, greed and sex. It makes me sick.
But perhaps not as much as it may worry other multi-millionaire players, who this morning, as they hear of Mason Greenwood’s story, are quaking in their sponsored boots.
That girl they pressured for sex the other night: did she keep a little video recording for safe-keeping? Could she use it against me? And if she did – what now?
MARTIN SAMUEL: Football cannot look away now. This is a watershed moment for the game in how it handles the rape and assault allegations made against Mason Greenwood
The urge might be to look away. The blood, the bruises, the smudged, frightened eyes.
Here is true horror and, rather than confront it, the urge will be to retreat into incongruous concerns about assets written off or careers ended, as if Mason Greenwood and his employers are victims, too.
But football cannot look away. It cannot hide behind police processes, as important as they might be.
Mason Greenwood (pictured) has been arrested after allegations from a female emerged online this weekend
It cannot think beyond the female and what has driven her to release the brutal images on Instagram and equally distressing audio.
So here is a watershed moment for the game, how it handles the allegations and how it views Greenwood.
In 2003, when Rio Ferdinand missed a drugs test and was removed from England’s squad pending a hearing, FA chief executive Mark Palios endured a tense conversation with a senior figure at Manchester United.
‘We are talking about a £30million asset for this club,’ he was told. ‘With respect,’ a weary Palios replied, ‘we’re talking about a little more than that.’
The world now watches to see how United view Greenwood following his arrest on suspicion of rape and assault.
Their first statement was a place-holder. ‘We are aware of images and allegations circulating on social media,’ United said. ‘We will not make any further comment until the facts have been established. Manchester United does not condone violence of any kind.’
Police arrived at the Man United striker’s house on Sunday on suspicion of assault and rape
Good to know. Yet sport creates heroes and is ready to make excuses for them. Floyd Mayweather and Mike Tyson are legends of boxing still, yet both have histories of violence against women.
In football, players are not just employees, they are expensive human resources. Greenwood’s value to Manchester United is measured in tens of millions.
The club’s next move was crucial. Late yesterday afternoon, it was announced Greenwood would be suspended until further notice. No matches and no training sessions.
It was a welcome acknowledgement of the seriousness of the allegation. His team-mates, David de Gea and Cristiano Ronaldo among them, began unfollowing him on social media. It has not always been this way. In the past, clubs have continued to use players under suspicion until it becomes impossible, or utterly reprehensible, to do so.
Benjamin Mendy will this year face trial over seven counts of rape and one of sexual assault, involving five women. Yet Manchester City continued to select him until it became unconscionable to do so and may suffer marked reputational damage as a result when the trial unfolds.
Sport has a double-standard for its biggest stars, with the likes of Mike Tyson still revered
Yet that judgment will not come from inside the game. Every club in football will recognise City’s strategy.
Brighton are continuing to play Yves Bissouma, who remains under investigation on suspicion of sexual assault. Indeed, Tottenham, Aston Villa, Arsenal and Newcastle have all been linked to him this transfer window.
No doubt those clubs, like Manchester United, do not condone violence of any kind. Many have invested a lot in women’s football, too, like Manchester City.
No PR campaigns or slogans, however, can cover a perceived casual attitude to violence against women. This has to be a turning point for the game. This is its Ray Rice moment.
In 2014 Rice, a running back for the Baltimore Ravens NFL franchise, was arrested after striking fiancee Janay Palmer in a lift at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City. Footage later emerged of the incident showing Rice delivering a punch with such force Palmer bounced off a handrail, unconscious. He literally then dragged her out of the elevator, still senseless.
Rice’s initial suspension by the NFL was just two matches. The Ravens also banned him indefinitely. A huge outcry followed what was seen as light sentencing by the governing body, forcing NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to come up with new rules governing domestic abuse.
The 20-year-old forward is tipped for the top but football must decide where its priorities lie
These rules now deploy a six-game suspension without pay for a first offence and a minimum of a year for a second. That almost suggests the first offence punishment is not truly a deterrent.
Part of the problem for the NFL was that no part of their code of conduct policy specified the area of domestic abuse. When Rice’s beating went public, the governing body were forced to improvise. Will the Football Association or Premier League regulations fare any better?
There is a catch-all charge of bringing the game into disrepute and public opprobrium may do the rest.
Rice never played in the NFL again and no franchise picked him up as a free agent. But there will have been people in authority scouring rulebooks for guidance when the social media posts became known and they will have found very little to prepare them for this.
Should that surprise? Football is adept at T-shirts and banners and social media campaigns, but women in wider society have rarely been well served.
Everyone in the game has heard stories of excess, girls transported, flown in for parties, properties that exist to protect the privacy of players, their friends and any sexual conquests they collect on the way.
Greenwood’s team-mates, like Cristiano Ronaldo, quickly distanced themselves online
Boys will be boys, girls will be girls, and as long as it’s all consensual, where’s the crime? Yet in Greenwood’s alleged threats and his accuser’s bruises, there is the sense of a warped, unequal culture that can only end in harm.
This is hardly new. In 2012, two days after Ched Evans was convicted of rape and sentenced to five years in prison, his name was celebrated at the Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year dinner.
Evans had been included in the League One team for that season, which was read out, from one to 11, to continuous applause. No one thought it right to remove his name, because ‘the brochures had been printed’ and that would have seemed strange.
Evans is no longer a rapist because in 2016, his conviction was quashed on appeal and a retrial ordered, in which he was acquitted. Yet those at Grosvenor House Hotel four years previously were not applauding in the belief a miscarriage of justice had occurred.
Evans, by then incarcerated, was treated as a hero because the PFA — a trade union, for heaven’s sake — decided 35 goals for Sheffield United trumped a rape conviction.
The PFA have admitted women for 22 years, by the way. They no doubt have plenty of procedures covering non-payment of subs.
It is hard to imagine Manchester United were unaware of issues around Greenwood. Certainly there are mysteries about his career path that may now become easier to understand.
Ched Evans was acquitted of rape but football’s response to his initial conviction was flippant
Greenwood’s case lays bare all of the sport’s archaic shortcomings over such issues
Gareth Southgate has avoided picking him for England since a disciplinary incident in Iceland in September 2020, also involving Phil Foden.
The pair broke coronavirus lockdown rules by inviting two girls to their hotel room yet, while Foden was swiftly rehabilitated, Greenwood has never been selected again.
Sometimes it has been at the request of his club. This is plainly one of the brightest young players in the country, so something wasn’t right. Everyone knew that.
Equally, last year, rumours abounded on social media that Greenwood had missed a match over an allegation of domestic violence. Again, this soon disappeared from the public domain.
With police now investigating and Greenwood arrested, it appears we may soon find out how much United knew about their player’s behaviour and what they did to address it.
Now, nobody is looking the other way.