Even if Roy Hodgson naively thought he could pick a tainted player, however
talented, then the
After his deserved spell in Purdah, Terry can continue turning out for
That is still an honour and certain standards should apply. Those found guilty of racism need not apply.
So what should Terry do now? “JT” is a toxic brand in football currently, in wider society too, a reality he and his advisers must address quickly and shrewdly. Does he want to spend the rest of his life stigmatised, not just him but his family? So adept at the art of tackling, one of England’s finest centre-halves will never face a greater challenge than this.
Terry needs to set off down the road to contrition, never an easy step for the confident Londoner, but a crucial journey none the less.
It’s time for some mea culpa, for an apology to Anton Ferdinand, and a public acceptance that he has erred. Anyone familiar with such a proud, tough character as Terry will know such a humbling course of action will be painful but he must show some rare self-awareness, some remorse.
Penitence is an appealing feature. The alternative is pig-headed ignorance of his shame, of a guarantee of condemnatory whispers wherever he goes. It’s Terry’s call.
If he goes ahead with an appeal, an option he is considering and is also his right, the 31 year-old will simply delay the inevitable day of reckoning. He’s been found guilty.
Two trained lawyers, Craig Moore and Stuart Ripley, were on the three-man Independent Regulatory Commission examining events of Oct 23, 2011. The FA was leaving nothing to chance. This judgment will stick.
The understanding is that Terry will not have his ban increased if he appeals and fails. The FA is not that vindictive. What Terry should also be aware of is that the governing body can also appeal the IRC’s decision, arguing that four games is insufficient for an offence containing a racial element.
Toxteth is in forment, enraged that Liverpool’s Luis Suárez received twice the sanction, although ignoring the Uruguayan’s repeated use of the word “negro” towards Manchester United’s Patrice Evra. The FA, quite rightly, cannot and will not be steered by outraged outpourings across social-media networks. Trial by Twitter is not here just yet.
If the FA did appeal, however unlikely a development, it would highlight the independent nature of the tribunal and underline further the FA’s strong stance on racism. David Bernstein’s organisation is putting deeds to fine words, disciplinary action to all the talk and T-shirts. Hodgson’s support for Terry was always a misguided gamble.
Thursday’s verdict echoed Bernstein’s statement to the players at the start of the season that they are role models, that language in the heat of sporting battle should still never cross certain lines. Terry crossed that line, according to the IRC.
The written reasons of Moore, Ripley and FA councillor Maurice Armstrong will clarify exactly why Terry was punished only with four games but clearly the element of provocation was taken into account.
Chelsea’s cocky captain receives abuse from opponents, more than the usual competitive banter, straying into personal details. He hears relentless heckling from opposing fans, some of it pernicious and tasteless about his mother.
But let us step back from the cordite and focus on exactly who is the victim here. Anton Ferdinand, according to the FA, endured a comment from Terry, whether in or out of context, that was degrading.
Ferdinand is hoping that now Terry has been punished that this is the end of the matter, although he understandably wants to read through the IRC’s written reasons.
Terry should think about all these factors. He must base his decision about an appeal on the temperature outside Stamford Bridge. Inside, it is warm and loving and filled with banners declaring: “Captain, Leader, Legend”.
Outside, it is full of Manchester United fans laughing and chanting “Viva John Terry” at his missed penalty in Moscow, full of Kopites making ribald comments about his mother, ultimately full of people who think Terry is a serially unpleasant individual.
Terry risks being deemed the Exxon Valdez of English football, an oil spill polluting the game. The public knows all about Terry’s assorted embarrassments, the allegations of affairs, the tours of the training ground, the parking issues, and the footballing offences such as cynically kneeing Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez at the Nou Camp last season.
That crass act summed up Terry; he thought he could get away with it. When caught, Terry initially claimed that he was not the type to commit such an offence. Laughable. It’s him.
Shakespeare would have gone through countless quills with Terry, the warrior riddled with human failings. Yet a frustration needs flagging up here. Anyone who has spent time with Terry will find him agreeable company, partly because of his chatty nature.
It needs stating that some of the younger generation could do with acquiring Terry’s will to win. He’s patriotic, he’s given everything for England, including suffering a sequence of injuries. Terry’s not all bad. But he’s lucky to escape with only four games in the stands for a racist remark, only 90 minutes more than those who rearrange an opponent’s shin pads.
Terry should open his eyes and see his flaws.