In light of the evidence that Adam Johnson had extreme pornographic material involving animals on his computer, it would be easy to simply dismiss the former Sunderland winger as a very troubled individual.
However, the case casts a poor light on many of those connected to him within football. It has certainly damaged the reputation of Sunderland football club who allowed him to continue playing despite having read the damning Whatsapp messages between the player and his underage victim. While Sunderland maintain it was solely the decision of the club’s chief executive Margaret Byrne to allow him to play, questions should be asked why more people at the club didn’t attempt to investigate the issue. Instead they collectively turned a blind eye so as to remain ignorant of the details and allowed Johnson to continue playing in a bid to help the club retain their Premier League status. The fact it took almost a month for the chief executive to resign after the midfielder had pleaded guilty to a charge of grooming and to a charge of sexual activity with a child highlights the absence of moral judgement in the decision making process.
Finally the FA should examine whether it is doing enough to educate players that there is a criminal difference between living a life of promiscuity and conducting sexual activity with underage individuals. While the evidence shows Johnson researched the age of consent before proceeding to communicate with the fan, he is unlikely to have expected his actions to lead to a six-year prison sentence.