A FORMER Hearts footballer convicted of indecent behaviour towards two young girls has been thwarted in his attempts to revive his career abroad after a Mediterranean club learned of his criminal past.
Craig Thomson had hoped to resume his playing career at a club in Cyprus after his contract with the Edinburgh side expired earlier this summer.
However, his prospective employer decided against hiring him after questioning his “character”.
The row has prompted the Cypriot commissioner for children’s rights to become involved, warning that the nation has no way of monitoring individuals convicted of offences against minors.
The 22-year-old hoped to play for Cypriot second-division side AEP Paphos FC.
However, the club’s chairman, Christos Glykis, revealed yesterday that he decided against signing Thomson.
He said: “This player did come on trial here but we did not sign him. To be honest with you, his character was a bit off and he simply didn’t fit in with the rest of the squad. He was given permission to try out with another team but that, too, didn’t work out. I paid for his ticket to return to Edinburgh and, as far as I know, he is on his way back to Scotland.”
Leda Koursoumba, the Cypriot commissioner for children’s rights, said the Thomson case was indicative of a wider problem throughout the island.
She said: “We cannot lay the blame on this football club or even the police [for the player arriving on trial]. This is an issue that needs to be addressed at government level because there are no laws, like the ones in the UK and other European countries, in which sex offenders are properly monitored.”
Thomson, a one-time youth international, made his debut for Hearts in their pre-season tour of Germany in July 2009, and made his first competitive outing a month later against Dinamo Zagreb in the Europa League.
However, his career came to a halt in June 2011, when he was fined £4,000 and placed on the sex offenders’ register after pleading guilty to lewd, libidinous and indecent behaviour towards two girls aged 12 and 14.
Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard how Thomson engaged in sexual conversations with the children, communicating with them through Facebook, e-mail and webcams, and that he told one of the victims, then 14, that he wanted to have sex with her, sending her a photograph of naked male genitalia.
A not guilty plea to a similar charge involving a third girl was accepted.
The controversy saw Hearts under significant pressure from supporters and children’s charities after officials initially offered their support to the
defender and criticised media coverage of the case.
One of the side’s sponsors, MacB Water, pulled a four-figure commercial deal with the financially stricken club, while an Edinburgh primary school prevented children from attending a session with players and coaches at the club’s training ground.
Ultimately, however, Hearts capitulated. Thomson was suspended before being allowed to move on loan to Kaunas and then Suduva, both Lithuanian clubs.
Thomson could not be contacted for comment last night.