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â€¢ Pressure grows on board to make decision today
â€¢ ‘Insulted’ Rio Ferdinand talks of ‘bad taste in mouth’
David Bernstein, the Football Association chairman, is facing increasing pressure from inside the organisation to remove the England captaincy from John Terry after a day of high-level talks behind the scenes to ascertain whether he should overrule the manager, Fabio Capello.
Bernstein contacted every member of the 12-strong FA board to ask for their individual views on the day that Rio Ferdinand described himself as “insulted” with a “bad taste in my mouth” and Emmanuel Frimpong, Arsenal’s 20-year-old Ghanaian, became the first footballer to say the FA’s handling of the case would put him off reporting racist abuse.
Ferdinand and Frimpong both used their Twitter accounts to express their anger on the day Bernstein established that at least one FA member wants Terry to lose the captaincy and that the decision should be taken immediately rather than putting it off until the next board meeting on 23 February.
One issue raised to Bernstein is that it would be difficult for the FA to take the moral high ground if any of England players are racially abused by the crowds at the European Championship in June. Other board members believe the FA is in a no-win situation and that, if it removes the captaincy from Terry, it will be accused of prejudging the case and ignoring the principle of innocent until proved guilty.
Capello has previously insisted that he should be the one making the decisions and there is a reluctance to go against the manager. However, a decision could conceivably be fast-tracked if Bernstein and his colleagues agree with Football Against Racism in Europe that Terry should not go to Euro 2012 as captain.
The talks took place on the day it emerged that QPR are unhappy that Terry’s trial for allegedly racially abusing Anton Ferdinand during Chelsea’s game at Loftus Road in October will not be heard until 9 July. One of Terry’s black international team-mates, from another Premier League club, has also spoken to him about the alleged incident, it is claimed.
As for Rio Ferdinand, the five-month wait raises the possibility that he will be asked to partner Terry at the centre of England’s defence shortly before a court case in which his younger brother is the alleged victim.
Ferdinand’s place in Euro 2012 is not guaranteed because of his injury issues but, if selected, the Manchester United player will have to choose whether he wants to be involved. Ferdinand told his almost two million Twitter followers: “I feel insulted, woke up with a bad taste in my mouth, it’s a goddamn joke!”
The 33-year-old, who could come face to face with Terry should the Chelsea defender shake off a knee injury in time, when United play at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, did not specify that he meant the trial delay but the clear insinuation was that he did and his representatives made no attempt during the day to deny it. Ferdinand may now have to decide whether to shake Terry’s hand in the preâ€‘match lineup at Stamford Bridge.
Frimpong, currently on loan at Wolverhampton Wanderers, described the FA as “out of order” and wanted to know “if Anton Ferdinand was in the England team, and was being charged for racism, would the FA wait?” A later message read: ”If I ever get racially abused, I wouldn’t think of telling the FA. I would rather tell my mum.”
Terry denies the charge and has made it clear he has no intention of relinquishing his captaincy despite Jason Roberts, the Reading striker and Kick It Out campaigner, predicting there will be a “toxic” atmosphere within the England squad if he goes to this summer’s tournament, to be held in Poland and Ukraine from 8 June to 1 July.
The FA has still not said anything official about a controversy that led Clive Efford, Labour’s shadow sports minister, to express his own unease.
“The current uncertainty while John Terry’s case waits to be heard helps no one. It would be better for everybody, including John Terry, if the case was heard before Euro 2012 begins,” the MP for Eltham said.
“If the FA and Capello feel that there is a danger that going into the championships with this matter unresolved could disrupt the England camp, they should take the best course of action for English football.”