It would be so easy to criticize former England manager Fabio Capello for his inability to get the England team to perform well enough to compete seriously in a major tournament. Or to speak about his not-so-principled stand for management control in defence of a talismanic skipper caught in a whirlwind of racial criticism.
But why waste time, when truth be told, he should have been fired by the Football Association for embarrassing them over what should have been a routine decision. Well done FA boss David Bernstein and his board for acting as leaders should. Their decision to strip Mr. Terry of the captaincy, made a clear and decisive statement, that they don’t want a player embroiled in a racially tainted court case representing the nation as our captain.
It’s OK if he’s got questionable morals but represent our multi-cultural melting pot. No, thanks.
Innocent until proven guilty, I hear you sensitive Terry defenders scream. Well, no, not in management terms. There are certain areas, certain things.. like say... involvement in a messy tax fraud case... which should preclude one from high office. Dear I mention... Terry Venables, or have we forgotten how that one ended.
To hear, Mr. Capello’s defence of Mr. Terry was outrageous. Why such angst about the potential loss of the Chelsea skipper. It’s something I often see with football managers, a singular focus on what happens with that round ball. Instead, he should have been asking what impact his crude defense would have on the terraces.
Why did the former England manager not save some of his angst for the Ferdinand clan, at the middle of the mess, which have suffered endless racial humiliation from “supportive” fans of the game.
What exactly was Mr. Capello planning to say to Rio, Darren Bent, and other players likely to be concerned about his overzealous support of a chap who has been known to be less than forthright on occasion.
Thankfully, such players won’t have to go through that painful episode and accept the unacceptable. And we won’t have to listen to him anymore.
To all of you who doubt the importance of the beautiful game, keep in mind Bill Shankly’s now famous truism: “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”
It perhaps is fitting that Mr. Capello leaves as the ugliest face of football emerges. After all, his team played a decidedly ugly brand of football.
Even the great...and it pains to say it as a Liverpool man....Sir Alex Ferguson must be careful of trying to navigate choppy racial waters. His clumsy call for “authorities” to make a strong stand against racism, sounded hollow at best and insincere at worst. Tinged as it was with fraternal support for Mr. Capello, Mr. Ferguson drew on a popular refrain in defence of his own credentials.
"I have had some fantastic black players, absolutely magnificent black players, and with every one of them I have enjoyed my working relationship with them."
For a man that also told CNN he did not “understand at all where it's coming from,” I suppose this is no surprise.
How pleasant for those of you that don’t have to be called a monkey and listen to racial slurs as vulgar as they are old.
For me, the real issue here is that so many people in football are so self conscious about the issue of racism. It’s almost as though they look in the mirror and see an ugly reflection. When the chance comes for the game to “take stock”, as Sir Alex so aptly put it, what was his answer.
The man with more football solutions than Einstein had theories wants the same authorities he so often decries to clamp down hard. What advice did he suggest to his own former England captain Rio Ferdinand, the brother of the black player at the centre of Mr. Terry’s troublesome court case.
Stand firm perhaps, speak out, challenge injustice, be a leader. No. Turn the other cheek. Rise above it.
Contradicting and extremely disappointing, just as it is to hear King Kenny suggest that Luis Suarez “should never” have been sanctioned! Please.
Again, people of color are left dissatisfied. Not because racism occurs, but that our white brothers and sisters consistently fail to deal with their own mess and educate their children properly. Too often, our pale cousins look at racism through their own prism. They just don’t respect us enough to listen to our growing agony. Instead, they look in the mirror, see a picture that looks like them and quickly head in the opposite direction for fear of being exposed.
All we’re asking is that our leaders lead, sensitively. Stop thinking racism is somebody elses issue. That it’s something to be personally ashamed of. We want it defeated, actively fought against, challenged at every turn. Do that, and we will all be happier.
Yet, even amid such turbulent and emotive signs it is another type of intolerance that equally unsettled me.
On the same day Mr. Capello resigned, former Man U wonderkind Ravel Morrison was being hauled over the coals for repugnant homophobic views all too common in the football dressing room.
The latest Twitter furore read: "Crack head?" said Morrison to a follower that raised his ire. "Go suck out u little faggot your a guy that talks if u see me you try slap me I'm in manchester every week." The tweet was later deleted.
Forget the fact that West Ham’s newest prodigy can’t spell, feel the sentiment. Something tells me, he’s going to be right at home in the East End.
I can hear you purists now. Talking about racism is one thing but gay rights. It’s just a step too far isn’t it. No.
In that most macho, male dominated of environments, who wants to even think about gay love or same sex engagement.
Ravel, here’s something to remember.
For as long as I have been around the game, I have always believed that many players and managers are, to put it in US parlance, operating on the down-low. That is, living life as a straight male, at home with the wife and kids and all that goes with it. But, in secret, enjoying the company of another brother.
I know, shocking right. Well actually, more likely than not, if you ask me. And the stats support that conclusion given that some 5,000 male professional players exist in the UK yet none are publicly gay.
According to the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (NATSAL), which surveyed close to 11,000 people in Britain between 1999-2001, there is a strong possibility that at least one member of the team is open minded when it comes to sexual attitudes and behaviour.
The look at people's same sex sexual experiences indicated that 8.4 percent of men had had a same sex sexual experience, including full bodily contact. That means, that in a squad of 25 players, the typical Premier League complement, at least two players have at some point experimented.
Why even suggest this. Because it’s another of those subjects that the beautiful game doesn’t want to address. A recent BBC article focused on the silence regarding gay footballers, some of which have had cause to call publicist Max Clifford fearing that they might soon be outed.
And, we should remember what happened to Justin Fashanu, the first black player sold for one million pound who committed suicide in May 1998. Long before Justin found himself in dubious circumstances in the US, where he perished, he was the 1980 BBC Goal of the Season winner for a cracker against who else but Liverpool.
Treated abysmally by the late Brian Clough, his career tanked at Forest and never recovered. So embarrassing was Justin’s revelation that he was gay that his own brother, John Fashanu – a celebrated member of Wimbledon’s Crazy Gang - publicly labeled him a family “outcast”.
Perhaps Mr. Morrison should learn from John Fashanu’s mistake. While at the time, Justin’s brother gave a now infamous interview published in The Voice newspaper, which viciously decried his older sibling.
John now has to live with the truth of such harsh rhetorical words and has had to learn the hardest of ways.
“I'm not homophobic and I never have been,” according to John speaking recently to the BBC. “At the time I was certainly cross with my brother. I sleep at night wondering all the time, could I have done more and I keep coming up with the answer, yes I could have done more. Does that console me? No. We've cried for nearly two decades for Justin, it's enough.”