The FA and Fabio Capello are increasingly at odds with each other over John Terry's captaincy. The Italian was vocal in his support of the Chelsea defender using the cover of the deferred legal case as a presumption of innocence till proven guilty. The FA increasingly under pressure for botching the whole racial abuse case from the get go sought a more moral imperative. Terry's continuation as a captain would prove divisive and distracting to the team.
The FA rode over Capello's objections and axed Terry. The England manager unsurprisingly did not take it well. He went on Italian TV and vented his frustration. Very unwisely, one might add.
"I told (the chairman) that I don't think someone can be punished until it becomes official," Capello told RAI. "The court will decide. It's going to be civil justice, not sports justice, to decide if John Terry committed that crime that he is accused of. And I thought it fair that John Terry keeps the captain's armband."
A public denouncement which did not go down well with the FA. They are in short very incensed.
"It is being taken very seriously by the FA because it may be that Fabio Capello has breached his contract," former FA executive director David Davies told the BBC on Monday. "You have to ask what his motive is. You have to suspect he wants to prevent John Terry retiring as a player before Euro 2012, but there are wider issues. You could have what some of the media are calling a morality circus while England are trying to win the second major tournament in football."
Today, Gordon Taylor, the CEO of the Professional Footballers' Association, called Capello's stance "bizarre and disappointing". Taylor also said that Capello should have held his counsel because the new captain would know he was not his manager's choice, creating a situation not conducive to locker room unity.
This is not the first ill conceived move made by Capello. His Capello index set up prior to the World Cup gave his own England players some very unflattering ratings which set off a firestorm of criticism and caused it to be yanked off forcing Capello onto the defensive. The current situation is far worse because he finds himself increasingly isolated and viewed with suspicion by many in the FA hierarchy. There is a familiar feel to these run of events just before one of the world's most prestigious competitions bringing back a reminder of why Capello's continuation was secured amongst uniform public disapproval.
It's quite telling that some of the more outspoken footballers have not come to his defense. But that would mean implicitly supporting a John Terry captaincy which one suspects is the last thing anyone wants.
A corollary to that would be if Terry would like to continue in the national team, which is possibly the reason why Capello made him captain heading off a potential retirement. Terry has not indicated he feels any differently, but a voluntary retirement would mean the FA and Capello get to save face. Otherwise, indications are Capello might have to re-consider his future as manager. The biggest thing in his favour is Harry Redknapp, the prohibitive favourite to take over as England manager could be a convicted felon by the time his court case gets over. Tomorrow, David Bernstein and Capello are set for a very important meeting to repair this breech.