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Is the John Terry Racism Claim Damaging to English Football?

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.

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  1. Todd

    November 18, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    Now I’m not defending Terry’s words or any other racist statements made over the decades, but I think in this age of technology and media, things just get blown way out of proportion. Things are said on the field, a lot of time in haste and during the heat of the moment, that should not be taken too literally. I’d like to think once the whistle blows and everyone walks off the pitch, you go have a beer and forget about it. It’s not like that’s the first bad thing someone’s said to an opposing player, yet people act bewildered when they find out. Guess what, we’re all savages when it comes down to it, and the spirit of competition brings that out in us all. Forgive and forget people, forgive and forget.

  2. David

    November 13, 2011 at 8:14 am

    Police? Over a “racist” statement? Have you people gone nuts?

    • Harold

      November 18, 2011 at 5:00 pm

      David – unlike in the USA, racism is an actual crime in England the police investigation followed a complaint of racism being made against John Terry

  3. Pakapala

    November 12, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    I don’t think this would have been such a great deal if John Terry didn’t come out with a statement admitting that he did say the words to Anton but not in the context the lip-readers are making it out to be. That is a key step in this ordeal that many people seem to either forget or omit intentionally. Terry after learning of the video catching his outburst came out with a statement saying: I said those words but it was only to tell Ferdinand that I did not call him those words.
    So basically Terry, in trying to do damage control, by first asking to see Anton after the game to clear things up, then coming out pretty much admitting to what the lip-readers read on the video, hung himself up out there. The media, the FA, the police, the fans, Anton, are not responsible for this. It’s all on Terry, not only for uttering those words but for the way in which he tried to “fix” his blunder afterwards.

  4. Bazza24

    November 12, 2011 at 7:06 am

    The politics behind this have changed.

    1. News of the world “newspaper” no longer exists to lead the Terry hate-mob
    2. Head of FA is now a more football-worldly-wise player
    3. Capello has learned that conceding to the “public moral outrage” camp works against him.

    Ultimately, if Terry is “guilty”, then the FA will be forced to take some action, but I suspect it will be cautious and balanced – not the dramatic witch-burning that some haters are hoping for. (Which paper do they read now that the NOTW has been trashed?)

  5. Abel

    November 9, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    As so many times in sports talent trumps character. John Terry as any player will tell you is a great player not a great person. I have seen it stated more than once, but it is overlooked because of his performance on the field. Like so many other athletes all over the world his actions are overlooked. Not surprised this happened.

  6. pat

    November 9, 2011 at 8:26 am

    John Terry may not be the best CB in Europe but he is certainly the best in the EPL and on the Englad squad.
    He has his faults, as we all do, but when he is on the field, he takes care of getting his job done and is consistent in doing his job.

  7. Pete

    November 8, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    Damaged English football? No

    Hasn’t Ferdinand (Rio) captained England? Quite a statement from a country with a 5% black population.
    I don’t think Terry is racist either, I think like usual the media has jumped on this to fill some pages and sell some newspapers.
    The ‘Gaffer’ himself is already squeezing the life out of the story with 3 articles about racism in the past week.
    By the time we actually find out the truth of what happened I’ll be sick to death of hearing about it.

    • trickybrkn

      November 8, 2011 at 11:24 pm

      I have called the Gaff on the pimping issue before… But what he is putting out there is what people are talking about…. Some we like some we dislike. Lord Ouseley, has threatened to quit the FA over this. That is pretty major. He talks about other players that have spoken out about racism, only to see them be passed off to other clubs. He understands the history that is built into the very fabric of the game…. If there is a man who has given his life work to race relations in Britain it is Lord Ouseley.
      I’m not going to claim moral authority on this issue, but when Lord Ouseley speaks out. I tend to think I may be right.

  8. Matthew

    November 8, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    The FA have a process whether you like or not its their process. I never said I agreed with the process but it is theirs to deal with.

  9. Matthew

    November 7, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    Until the final outcome John Terry is and should be considered innocent until proven guilty. I would rather trust experts with the video rather than every Tom, Dick and Harry on the internet. Let the process take its natrual course and not turn into a circus. I don’t like this witch hunt drama that is so common in the West

    • Andrei

      November 8, 2011 at 1:31 pm

      “…until proven guilty”. Proven by who? Jury, FA bureaucrats, media, Anton Ferdinand or his cousin Rio Ferdinand, QPR supporters? Who? Who can pass the judgement that you are a racist, bigot, xenophobic, gay hater or generally bad person?

  10. Brian

    November 7, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    I’d like to see the video where he says what he is accused of saying – since it doesn’t exist.

    Another worthless Terry witchhunt, with all the usual suspects ganging up to eviscerate him until he runs out and captains England like no other and saves Three Lions from further embarassment somewhere on the pitch.

    That poor Anton Ferdinand, the man who elbowed Terry in the head, who didn’t know he was a victim, not in the Chelsea dressing room after, not at SWP’s birthday party with Terry that weekend, and not until some pompous arrogant advisor told him to come forward with absolutely nothing.

    Why is this still news?

    • trickybrkn

      November 7, 2011 at 10:47 pm

      what because he has friends that are black it excuses his words?

      but I guess when you think of Terry as the savior of English football it explains where you are coming from.

    • admin

      November 8, 2011 at 7:23 am

      • Brian

        November 10, 2011 at 7:53 am

        Again, show me the video where he’s accuses of saying what he said. Because that’s not it.

  11. AM

    November 7, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    Sorry, why is no one asking what the big deal is?

    In my opinion, for something to be racist, you need to either have a vicious intent or use a particularly damaging term. While I don’t like Terry, he is not guilty of either one of those things.

    The fact that Terry has gotten along with so many of his team mates of another race, religion, etc goes some way to showing that he is not a racist. “Black C**t” hardly constitutes as racism and in my opinion this issue has been blown way out of proportion.

    Had someone like Beckham or Gerrard said this then I am positive more people would be writing from my perspective but it’s a shame that no one from the press is standing up for him.

    • trickybrkn

      November 7, 2011 at 10:42 pm

      Beckham would never say something that stupid. Gerrard who knows…

      and for you to even ask what the big deal is, must have missed the last decade Kick Racism Out of Football.
      and when you reference someone’s skin color its racism. don’t be an idiot.

      • AM

        November 8, 2011 at 8:35 am

        You would be surprised at what people can say in the heat of the moment.

        I agree that referencing someone’s skin colour can constitute racism but I don’t think that Terry’s words were meant with that intent…. I’m sure Terry could’ve thought of a lot more racist things to say to Ferdinand but the words he chose were hardly mean.

  12. trickybrkn

    November 7, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    So your point is that Terry was picked because he is the best center back in the country…

    I disagree. 1. there are friendlies. the point of these matches is to see what you have and experiment. 2. He is not the John Terry of even last season. He has lost a step, takes more chances and get ripped apart way too often to even be considered world class. 3. If he where a gentleman he’s step aside this round of internationals and let this either blow over or at least take the laser sharp focus of the media off himself. He is the captain after all.

    Lets be clear. a charge of racism is very serious. Even worse when its been disseminated via video all around the world. clear for us all to see it come from his mouth. and worse yet when its admitted and a context is presented to justify it. This isn’t an off putting comment to a referee or a opposing player, its an insult that says I am better then you not because of my play but because of the color of my skin.
    So will the English FA present him as the leader of the countries football squad? Why would they? I couldn’t tell you. There are other options, and its just a distraction from a team that has been disappointing for the past two decades. and has had more questions and scandals then big wins.
    or better put, why the hell are we talking about John Terry and not the chances of winning the upcoming Euros or at least the game v a very very good Spanish side. That is the question … and its not cause Terry is that great of a leader nor because he that good of a player… In fact most news outlets have said that Capello met with Terry and told him he will not be captain… that he will be in the squad, but he will in fact mix it up and experiment. So the reality is, this could be the beginning of the end.

    • Fernando

      November 7, 2011 at 10:02 pm

      Really? Clear for all to see? You must have new evidence that no one else on Earth has.

  13. Fernando

    November 7, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    John Terry is guilty of an accusation. Anton Ferdinand did not hear him utter the alleged slur. So how on earth could Terry be guilty of saying it when no one heard it?

    The only people who lose if Terry is innocent is the English media who have blown something out of context before we know the whole story. They’ll say they were just reporting as they saw it and carry on.

    If the police’s only evidence is the video from Sky there is no way that can be the smoking gun b/c no one is sure what was said and what wasn’t.

    To captain a team with numerous black players it is downright stupid to say John Terry is racist. However whether you think Terry is not the sharpest person in the room is another matter.

  14. Peter

    November 7, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    It’s hard to tell what this article is trying to accomplish, but I suppose the fact that it’s been published just underscores how much hand-wringing is taking place over this topic. And like this article, a lot of that hand-wringing – particularly in England – is taking the shape of weakly focused, poorly reasoned arguments that Terry or the FA or UEFA or Capello of the Police or Fill In The Blank should be doing this or not doing that, all in the name of saving England or Football or All That Is Good In The World. Sensible people might say it’s all a bit over cooked. Anyone who saw the QPR v Chelsea match would know it was a very heated and challenging match. I have no idea what was said and what wasn’t out on the pitch, but based on my viewing of the famous video clip in question, I’m astounded at how much better everyone else’s lip-reading skills are relative to mine. Eventually the police and the FA will have something to say about the facts, as best as they can pull them together. In the meantime, you can side with Ian Wright or you can side with Paul Ince. You can side with Chris Powell or you can side with Fabio Capello. You can side with Des Kelly or you can side with Martin Samuel. Whatever your personal preference. Two things amaze me about this: first, that the accusation what made by a “fan” (tell me that’s someone interested in justice) rather than, say, Ferdinand; and, second, that what this really seems to be turning into is an effort to blame John Terry for the prospect of England once again having to face its own demons with respect to racism. This news story upsets the holier-than-thou PR campaign that English journalists and others have been working hard at over the last couple decades as they look down their noses at an allegedly less highly evolved continental Europe. Rather than wait until the facts are clear, much of the press would seem to prefer to just blot the whole thing out, because it reminds them too much of the past. Trouble is, that past isn’t Terry’s responsibility. Where I come from (America), racism is characterized by murder and systematic economic deprivation – not by (alleged) name calling. Let’s give the hand-wringing a rest until the facts are somewhat more clear and in the meantime try not say anything we might regret.

  15. MrMcGoog

    November 7, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Ha, social media is to blame… according to the media. I think it’s all a scheme to take down the MIGHTY English National football team, oh wait, 1966 bring the team back to relevance?

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