The FA has ruled that Chelsea’s John Terry cannot captain England while facing charges of allegedly racially abusing QPR’s Anton Ferdinand. Is it right that Terry lost the captaincy before a verdict has been reached?
Yes – Damian Collins, Conservative MP for Folkstone and Hythe
‘What’s it all about? The England football captain and manager have both been removed because of a charge, as yet unproven, brought by a member of the public. This decision has been met with approval from many former players, an ex-England manager and the prime minister. Yet some question the decision, saying that Terry is innocent until proven guilty [which of course he is].
‘Firstly, John Terry is not just the victim of rumours but has received a criminal charge from the police for racially abusing another player, and ordered to appear in court to answer. Whether he likes it or not until the case is heard, there will be an element of doubt about Terry in the minds of some of his fellow players and many fans of the game.
‘The England captaincy is not a right; it’s a privilege. It is a public position and the holder is not only a leader of the team on the pitch but a figurehead for the game in the country. It was untenable for the England captain to be facing such a serious criminal charge and continue in his position. When fellow professionals will not even shake the captain’s hand – as we saw in the recent Chelsea v QPR match – you know it’s time for them to go. If Fabio Capello couldn’t see this, or allowed his pride to blind himself to it, it was right for him to resign as manager as well.
‘The Football Association has been the game’s punchbag of choice for a number of years. However, from standing up to Sepp Blatter and Fifa last year to its handling of the Terry affair, the FA under new chairman David Bernstein is starting to do the right thing.The FA is the administrator of sporting competitions but it is also the moral guardian of the game. It should set rules on player conduct and be prepared to intervene when it believes wrong has been done. If football is the beautiful game, we have to be concerned not just about its technical execution on the pitch but also its spirit and character.’
No – Dan Levene, covers Chelsea FC for Fulham and Hammersmith Chronicle
‘In one ill-conceived pronouncement last Thursday, the prime minister swept away centuries of judicial precedent that make up this country’s unwritten constitution. “I don’t think Fabio Capello was right about the John Terry issue – you can’t be captain with that question mark that needs to be answered,” said David Cameron – a man more attuned to the niceties of Eton Fives than those of our national sport. ‘Innocent until proven guilty is a basic tenet of English law. There is a great irony that Capello’s resignation as England manager, having cited the failure of the FA to uphold this standard in relation to Terry, came just a few hours after Harry Redknapp walked free from Southwark Crown Court. The man whom the press have seemingly already elected as his successor had just been cleared of charges of cheating the public revenue.
‘As Terry is doing now, Redknapp had strenuously protested his innocence of the charge. But the FA’s ham-fistedness in sacking a man their own manager had deemed suitable to lead his country on-pitch has caused incalculable damage. One unpleasant offshoot of this is that last week, the BNP was using the incident as a recruitment tool, citing it as evidence of a breakdown in ‘British values’. These are the things that happen when public authorities mess about with the rule of law. I have campaigned for 20 years against racism in football, and possess no desire whatsoever to see a man convicted of a racially aggravated public order offence lead either my club or country. But equally, I have no desire to see those in charge ofmy country and its national obsession with football strip a man of his reputation and pride before he’s had a chance to defend himself in a court of law.’ Follow Dan on Twitter @BluesChronicle.