Among the sudden troubling outbreak of Premiership players throwing alleged racial epithets (and spitting) around, the John Terry/Anton Ferdinand “F*****g Black C**t” incident stands at the forefront among the other incidents involving Luis Suarez/Patrice Evra and Antolin Alcaraz/Richard Stearman. Due to Terry’s standing as Chelsea captain and currently holding onto the cursed idol that is England captain, it is obvious that his is the most newsworthy scandal but a bigger question remains.
If Terry is guilty, does this hurt English football?
A severe question to be sure, but that’s how people write articles to get other people to talk about them. Let’s break that question down for a minute because there is truth in the hyperbole.
John Terry has a questionable good reputation in both the EPL and the global football world due to his club success and international consistency. He’s won a lot of titles, captained the national team, hated by many, loved by Chelsea fans and overall spoken of highly in discussions for who became great out of his generation of talent. He’s had a few indiscretions (many that could be called more than a indiscretion) in his career but overall you don’t get picked for captaincies if you don’t have talent, which is why an accusation of racism is a nuclear attack on your career and reputation. If Terry is found guilty, stripping the captain’s armband for England is just an added punishment on top of whatever else he should get. Even if he’s found innocent the damage of the accusation still may end up tarnishing him further.
As far as Chelsea, this only hurts supporters of the club. If Chelsea goes all in on AVB as a long term manager that will overhaul the club, Terry will eventually fall out of the style of play that Villas-Boas will want. It will be hard and sad and eventually the fans will move on, but he will still be viewed as a main character in all of their fantasies. Whether or not he should be stripped of the captaincy is a matter of the club, and how they view public relations.
England though is the more interesting one. He can lose the captaincy and that only hurts his career in theory. (In fact, while we’re on this subject, isn’t it a little odd that Capello takes the armband for the alleged affair with Wayne Bridge’s girlfriend and doesn’t for an allegation of racism towards a player?)
Where it really hurts is the idea that England is a very aged team and that replacements either haven’t gotten enough time or aren’t ready yet. If Terry loses his spot on England the defensive pool of players consists of (as per the FA’s website) the following people: Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole, Phil Jagielka, Glen Johnson, Phil Jones, Joleon Lescott and Kyle Walker. That’s not especially a strong group and considering the fact that Rio Ferdinand is not walking through that door anytime soon, a weak team looks even weaker if Terry is done with the team.
Possibly this is why Capello would make the odd decision to so overwhelming back Terry, even when the result isn’t clear about how these allegations are going to shake out. Racism on the pitch (and of course everywhere else) is an unacceptable behavior, and in football terms the punishment has to be severe. If John Terry’s found guilty he just threw out his career over something stupid and it creates a rather large hole in how the EPL is viewed globally. It creates a huge hole in England’s squad, too, and it changes an overall perception of the scene. That alone is a reason for everyone, be it fans of Chelsea/England or non fans to keep an eye on how this all plays out.