News that England captain John Terry will not face trial for his alleged racial abuse of Anton Ferdinand has been met with shock and disappointment by many and plunged England’s Euro 2012 preparations into confusion.
The national side now faces the prospect of being led by a man who could conceivably return from the tournament and then be convicted of racially abusing a fellow professional. Then there’s the point of how can Rio Ferdinand realistically play alongside someone who’s awaiting trial for racially abusing his younger brother? How can black players feel happy being led by someone who’s accused of using racist insults at another player? In fact how can any professional, black or white be happy about the whole situation?
“Innocent until proven guilty” is the mantra of not just the Terry supporters but also the pseudo liberal faction seeking to give everyone a ‘fair trial.’ Well here’s where the plot thickens, for starters that rule may apply in the eyes of the law, but does it apply in the court of public opinion, does it mean that Terry is actually innocent of the charges? Does it mean that Terry didn’t call Ferdinand a “f*cking black c*nt”?
The presumption of innocence is a legal rule that applies to the criminal justice system, the fact that there are pending criminal charges mean the prosecution have determined in all likelihood Terry is guilty. In the past pending criminal charges have been more than sufficient grounds for suspending someone from employment or refusing to allow them to hold an office.
Terry may be guilty and he may not, but the fact that the Crown Prosecution Service believe they have enough evidence to take the Chelsea skipper to trial tells its own story. The fact that Sky TV are forced to blur out the footage of Terry’s rant at Ferdinand seems pretty ominous as does the fact that the entire Queens Park Rangers team were unwilling to shake Terry’s hand.
When it comes to the “innocent until proven guilty” argument another problem is that hasn’t been the way the FA have dealt with matters in the past. When Alan Smith was called into the England squad back in 2003, he was subsequently removed when the FA realised the police were charging him with throwing a bottle back into the crowd at Elland Road during a clash with United.
Jonathan Woodgate and Lee Bowyer were suspended from representing the England team by the FA while they awaited trial for the alleged assault of an Asian student named Sarfraz Neijeb.
Rio Ferdinand was suspended by the FA pending his drug test hearing, a move that almost caused the entire squad to strike ahead of the Euro 2004 qualifier against Turkey.
It seems other players have been suspended from the England team before their trials or hearings have been seen, yet Terry is allowed to represent his country while his is still pending.
What’s even worse are the nature of Terry’s charges, he’s not just accused of abusing a fellow professional but of racially abusing them, an act which is abhorrent to any right thinking decent individual. Should Terry be found guilty, then we now face the prospect of watching a man who captained our nation, be convicted of using racist abuse.
Let’s not forget that even if Terry isn’t found guilty it doesn’t necessarily mean he didn’t call Ferdinand what he’s been charged with, simply that there isn’t enough evidence to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.
Even if Terry is found not guilty and even if he didn’t actually say what he’s been accused of, is that going to stop there being severe rifts in the England dressing room at Euro 2012?
No matter what some may claim about Gary Cahill and Joleon Lescott, the fact is a fit Rio Ferdinand, deserves to be in the England squad and surely that would cause a problem for dressing room harmony.
The FA have bungled badly by not suspending Terry from the England team as soon as he was charged, banking on the trial being before the Euros.
The fact that the trial has been set at such a later date due to Terry’s Chelsea team mates not being available until after the season merely adds to the air of ridiculousness surrounding the entire affair.
Terry deserves a fair trial, yes, but does he deserve to lead his country or even play for it, while awaiting his trial, others haven’t been afforded such accommodation so why should he?