Chelsea had a chance to show they understood the damage the Terry case has done – and they Blue it
Chelsea had 12 months to draw up the strategy for how to deal with John Terry.
Five days short of a year, during which time the image of the club has been dragged through the mud.
On Thursday, as Terry accepted his FA punishment, his four-game ban and record £220,000 fine, was Chelsea’s opportunity to take a stand.
Not by sacking Terry for his racial abuse of Anton Ferdinand – after all, nobody called for Liverpool to sack Luis Suarez – but by making a mark, showing a principle, an understanding of the hurt and damage the affair has caused, demonstrating an awareness of how this case has led to the worst outpourings of tribalism, and at times outright and blatant racial abuse.
And, sadly, Chelsea flunked it.
Completely, totally and utterly.
There is no doubt that Terry has been, is and will continue to be an iconic figure at Stamford Bridge.
His feats in Chelsea colours have been legendary, which played a significant part in the internal leniency.
That, though, cannot excuse his moment of madness and what the FA’s Independent Regulatory Commission described as his “improbable, implausible and contrived” evidence at Westminster Magistrates – Terry did not deny any of the facts presented at his FA hearing, merely questioned the validity of the process.
In allowing the defender to remain a symbol of the club, it is not just anti-racism campaigners who will question Chelsea’s integrity.
It is, indeed, up to the club whether to disclose the precise amount of the fine levied on Terry after his first public apology since the events at Loftus Road on October 23, 2011.
The fact the PFA have not been asked if they would agree a punishment heavier than the normal maximum of two weeks’ wages suggests it has cost the defender around £340,000 in addition to the FA sanction.
Yet allowing Terry to keep the armband, to remain the leading on-field representative of a club that maintains its total commitment to the anti-racism cause, appears a retrograde step.
The captaincy is an expression of his pivotal role at the club – an honour he loves.
And one that Chelsea’s finest defender, finest leader, lost the right to retain.
Terry’s admission, followed by the club’s own statement, had already raised hackles.
The fact there was no mention of Anton Ferdinand and his family, in either statement, is understood to have caused grave disquiet and anger.
At least, after his year of purdah, Terry did concede – almost – that his behaviour had not been acceptable.
“I want to take this opportunity to apologise to everyone for the language I used in the game against QPR last October,” said Terry. “Although I’m disappointed with the FA judgment, I accept that the language I used, regardless of the context, is not acceptable on the football field or indeed in any walk of life.
“With the benefit of hindsight my language was clearly not an appropriate reaction to the situation for someone in my position.”
Terry, who had been urged by the club and the PFA not to appeal, promised there would be no repeat, reiterated his backing for the anti-discrimination cause, with Chelsea suggesting he had “made the correct decision” with his “full apology” for the “unacceptable language”.
The club added: “Chelsea enjoys support all over the world.
“We have players and supporters from many different countries and cultures, and our club is committed to eradicating all forms of discriminatory behaviour. John is fully committed to continue supporting that ongoing work.”
PFA chief Gordon Taylor, understood to be keen for Terry to make some public recompense, rightly pointed out: “One week would have been too long, but one year is ridiculous.
“There should have been an apology straightaway followed by a serious demonstration of remorse. It’s done so much damage to the individuals involved, as well as the game as a whole.”
But there were no such expressions, with Terry advised by his lawyers that any apologies might have been seen as prejudicing the case against him, making yesterday’s words look far too little, far too late.
Two weeks ago, Roberto Di Matteo was forced to deny the argument that the Terry case, followed in such close order by the “bunchoft***s” tweet by Ashley Cole that cost the left-back £90,000 in addition to his club fine of £220,000, was evidence of a club that was “out of control”.
Yet when the punishment is so meek, when Terry will be wearing the armband again in Donetsk next Tuesday night, the allegation looks even harder to dismiss.
I use to enjoy going to football matches I have say that I have gone off the game for a number of reasons which I have learnt during both my childhood and adulthood on the grounds of racism which has tarnished the great game.
When people from a multicultural background plays for a team they expect support from their fellow players instead they are left to fen for themselves whilst they have to put up with the racist chants. Granted there has been some changes but not enough to discourage racist thugs from spoiling the entertainment.
The football federation should do more to protect the game but instead they are too busy enjoying the profit they made from media coverage they receive. On the other hand it’s become very expensive to attend the matches and we can see the game on television for less than a price of a ticket yet I’m still turn off from watching it.
Instead of the players who are facing the isms just walks off the pitch he just stays on the pitch and take the abuse what should have happen is that all the players should take the lead and walk off the pitch with the person who is facing racism as that would show more of a solidarity towards the player.
If all the team players walks off the pitch in solidarity of the person who is facing the abuse this would send a clear message it’s not in their name. I’m a very firm believer that the Federation will have to strong stand of those who incite a hate crime.
We have seen many grassroots organisations which monitor hate crimes lost their fundings by this coalition govt yet they have the cheek not only to hide behind the so called Big Society and say “We are all in it together” I say Pfui it’s more of a code name for fatter cuts both in the public and voluntary sectors that monitor hate crimes.
Then there is Show Racism The Red card which is over rated and very basic for Children to understand which is understandable but lacks the fundamental principles of how to solve it and what are the penalties it can imposed to foreign teams and to nationalist who are set in their own ideology from attacking and promoting racial hate crimes against both supporters and footballers.