On February 3, 2012, the FA issued a statement “confirm[ing] that [John Terry] will not captain the England team until the allegations against him are resolved.” It further stated that “[t]his decision has been taken due to the higher profile nature of the England captaincy, on and off the pitch, and the additional demands and requirements expected of the captain leading into and during a tournament.” Was it the right decision? Well, before you answer this question, consider the following:
First, let’s consider the allegations. According to the Crown Prosecution Service, Terry was charged with violating the Crime and Disorder Act by “using threatening, abusive or insulting words; which was racially aggravated.” In addition, there appears to be some compelling evidence (video close-ups of Terry hurling the insults) that he did use insulting language towards the Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand.
Second, and this one is an especially important, Terry is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Third, Anton Ferdinand – the QPR defender who was on the receiving end of the alleged insults – is a brother of Rio Ferdinand. Rio Ferdinand, in turn, plays a central role in England’s defensive formation. In fact, Rio Ferdinand is supposed to play alongside John Terry. Given the circumstances and the high potential for animosity between the two, this can only result in disastrous consequences to the chemistry of the entire team – both on the pitch and in the locker-room.
Fourth, this was not the first time that John Terry was accused of improper behavior involving a teammate. Indeed, as recently as January 2010, it was reported that John Terry carried on a long-term affair with Vanessa Perroncel, a longtime girlfriend of then-Chelsea and a World Cup squad teammate Wayne Bridge. There were many other examples
“In 2001 he was fined by Chelsea after being accused, along with three team-mates, of mocking American tourists in the wake of 9/11 while drunk in a Heathrow hotel. The following year the Football Association refused to consider him for selection for the World Cup finals as he was awaiting trial on a charge of affray, for which he was found not guilty. Following those incidents he made a conscious effort to improve his behaviour. “Discipline in your behaviour is as vital as it is on the pitch, I’ve learnt that the hard way,” he said in an interview four years ago.
In March 2008 he was fined £60 for parking in a disabled bay while visiting a Pizza Express in Esher, Surrey. Last year his mother, Sue, and mother-in-law were cautioned for shoplifting, while his father, Ted, was filmed by the News of the World allegedly offering cocaine to a reporter in November 2009.
Terry’s reputation was also marred last year when an email sent by a marketing company, Riviera Entertainment, effectively touting the England captain’s services ahead of this summer’s World Cup finals was made public. That was followed in December by another NotW story claiming Terry and Tony Bruce, a known ticket tout, were offering tours of Chelsea’s ground allegedly for cash.”
See, Robert Verkaik, Terry’s Affair with Teammate’s Girlfriend Revealed, The Independent (January 30, 2010).
Fifth, the captaincy of England is a high profile position and, arguably, any player aspiring to that position should be a role model. The controversy surrounding Terry does not help his image.
Sixth, England’s skipper, Fabio Capello, resigned over the way the FA handled this matter.
Given all of these considerations, was the FA’s decision appropriate? Let us know what you think.