Once again, English football is in the midst of a row caused by John Terry. His latest scandal, the alleged racial abuse of Anton Ferdinand, has meant that he and Ferdinand’s brother, Rio could not both be selected for England’s Euro 2012 squad, and it has resulted in the latter’s omission. It’s a situation that must feel all too familiar for the FA, and yet the powers that be still haven’t learned their lesson: John Terry is more trouble than he is worth.
When asked to justify Rio Ferdinand’s exclusion, Roy Hodgson cited ‘footballing reasons’. This clearly isn’t the whole story; dressing room politics is the real reason Ferdinand isn’t going. Now that he’s even been passed over in favour of Martin Kelly, whose experience of international football amounts to all of four minutes’ playing time, it has become evident just how important it is for Ferdinand to be kept away from John Terry.
People may say that Ferdinand has been left out because he is unable to play a run of matches in a short space of time. While this could be true, it is beside the point; as Gary Cahill’s back-up he could have served as a valuable stand-in for a game or two, in the case of injury or suspension. Surely, with 81 caps under his belt, the Manchester United captain would have been a more worthwhile replacement than the unproven Kelly, or Phil Jagielka. It is unimaginable how, at this stage, someone could still claim Ferdinand has been left out purely because he isn’t good enough. It seems as though a player who has done nothing wrong has been dropped in favour of a player who may well have done something wrong, and that is, if nothing else, immoral.
Whether or not Rio Ferdinand deserves to be in the England squad on merit is irrelevant, however. The point is that John Terry is a disruptive influence and should not be representing England in Poland and the Ukraine. Although, of course, he is innocent until proven guilty, the allegations of racism made against him will undoubtedly affect team harmony. Given that Ferdinand had taken exception to the Chelsea captain’s behaviour, it wouldn’t be surprising if some of the other England players had, too.
There is an increasingly popular belief that it’s not merely a coincidence that some of most surprising omissions from the squad (Richards, Sturridge, Lennon) were all black players. The theory is that due to their race, Hodgson felt those players would be especially resentful of Terry and so, in the interest of unity, he excluded them. Personally, I don’t buy this argument for a second, but the existence of such cynical, not to mention controversial discourse is indicative of the negative press surrounding this issue and the severity of the situation.