Gary Neville has said he was “misinterpreted” after being criticized for liking and retweeting a tweet describing Manchester United footballer Mason Greenwood as “an innocent man”.
Criminal proceedings against Greenwood, 21, were dropped earlier on Thursday.
The Crown Prosecution Service said there was no longer any realistic prospect of a conviction after key witnesses withdrew from the investigation.
Afterwards, Neville, the former Manchester United defender, became a pundit and commentator, then liked and retweeted two tweets from Nazir Afzal, the former chief prosecutor.
The first tweet called Greenwood “an innocent man.” The other said “you are innocent until proven guilty”.
Neville untweeted the tweets shortly after, but they remained on the “liked” section of his Twitter profile.
Neville then tweeted: “I liked a tweet relating to the Mason Greenwood news this afternoon from Nazir Afzal. (the former Attorney General).
“This likeness is being misinterpreted. It was a clumsy likeness, as I obviously condemn all violence against women.”
Then he did not like the tweets of Afzal.
United, meanwhile, have said Greenwood will not play or train with the team while they carry out their own internal investigation.
Greenwood had stood trial in November 2023.
A statement from Greater Manchester Police on Thursday read: “Criminal proceedings against a 21-year-old man in connection with an investigation opened in January 2022 have today (Thursday 2 February 2023) been discontinued by the CPS.”
A CPS spokesperson told The Athletic: “We have a duty to keep cases under continuous review.
“In this case, a combination of the withdrawal of key witnesses and new material coming to light meant that there was no longer any realistic prospect of a conviction. Under these circumstances, we are obliged to stop the case.
“We have explained our decision to all parties.
“We will always encourage any potential victims to come forward and report to the police and we will prosecute wherever our legal test is met.”
Greenwood’s club said in a statement: “Manchester United note the decision by the Crown Prosecution Service that all charges against Mason Greenwood have been dropped.
“The club will now carry out their own process before deciding on the next step.
“We will not be making any further comment until this process is complete.”
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