The FA chases its own tail while it cries no racism
Steven Gerrard is feeling angry at the number of injury absences sweeping this England squad just before the start of the Euro. The list now includes Gary Cahill ruled out with his double jaw fracture sustained in the Belgium friendly. He joins Glen Johnson, Frank Lampard, Gareth Barry, and John Ruddy who will miss out on this year’s competition. However, Cahill’s absence has far more implications than a gaping hole in the heart of defense.
Ferdinand who was already miffed at being left out in the first 23 by Roy Hodgson must have felt this was his chance of a call up. Instead Cahill’s spot was given to Martin Kelly, the 22 year Liverpool player who is more comfortable playing right back. Ferdinand’s reaction predictably was that of outrage. Sources close to the player say he called the decision “disgraceful and morally very suspect”. This is surely the end of a stellar international career. Hodgson defended his decision to omit Ferdinand on “footballing reasons.” Far more is being read into it and for good reason.
At the core of this unseemly imbroglio is the FA’s kicking the can down the road which presumes Terry is innocent until proven guilty of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand, Rio’s brother in February when they played QPR. He will get his hearing in court after the Euros are over.
The one concession the FA made was to strip Terry of the England captaincy while they used Fabio Capello’s characteristically blunt reaction to that decision to strip him off his managerial position. There was much concern at the time of Hodgson’s initial squad selection as to whether Terry’s presence in the squad could have opened up the potential of a player revolt on racial lines with Ferdinand as the instigator acting out of concern for his brother.
There was almost a sigh of relief when Ferdinand was not picked thus heading off what could have been a repeat of the same bitter divisiveness that doomed France’s 2010 World Cup chances. This despite Ferdinand making statements that he was willing to work alongside Terry. What Kelly’s selection shows here is a dog chasing its own tail.
The FA could have put this to bed by holding the trial before the Euros by which time John Terry could have either been found guilty or innocent of racism charges. Either way, Hodgson’s justification for leaving out Ferdinand would have been far more water tight. Now, he and the FA, have left themselves open to whether there lies any footballing merit behind not unifying Ferdinand with Terry. Or in their falling over themselves to avoid any racial infection, in fact, they are digging a deeper hole. A recent BBC Panorama series exposes rampant anti-semitism and racism blighting Ukrainian and Polish leagues but Terry’s case shows England is being facetious when it takes such a higher ground.