John Terry must relinquish captaincy


Of course the principle of innocent until proven guilty must apply to Chelsea’s John Terry even though he has been charged with racially abusing Anton Ferdinand. But with such a serious charge, and quite clearly a case to answer - video footage - it is in football’s best interest for England manager Fabio Capello to take away the captaincy until the case is over.

In a similar situation a Government Minister would resign from his post until the cloud was lifted. If Terry himself was to put his country first one would have thought the suggestion - to relinquish the captaincy - would initially come from him.

Some people have argued that Terry, who denies any wrongdoing, and the Luis Suarez case is ‘over the top’ and in the heat of the moment, people say stupid things. Terry’s case aside, it’s true that people do say stupid things in the heat of the moment, but it’s equally true that we don’t have to accept them. That’s how cultural behaviour changes. There are few sports such as football when the heat of the moment occurs for 90 minutes every week in front of literally millions of fans. On the terraces the fans are even more intense than watching on TV.

In the summer, I took my son to White Hart Lane to watch his beloved Athletic Bilbao play Tottenham Hotspurs in a pre-season friendly. The level of hatred and abuse from many quarters was truly a sight not to behold. First, the wholesale chanting of ‘Stand up if you hate Arsenal’, sung with venom, should sadden any parent. But there were father and sons bellowing out songs of hatred. Then a fan behind us had to be warned by the officials for expletives towards the other players including remarks such as ‘go on snap his legs’. This, remember, was a friendly match.

Demanding that our very well paid Premier League players control their language and abuse is an absolute minimum we should demand. On the terraces too, controlling behaviour and rooting out racism sets a tone for wider society to flourish.

Simon Woolley

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Innocent until proven guilty

This is an important principle but it should not be misunderstood. It applies in a trial in a criminal court. That does not stop the law applying appropriate restrictions to the activities of an accused person up to and including locking them up by remand in custody before they have stood trial, let alone been found guilty. This is not routine, but it is a necessary part of our system where appropriate (and stringent) conditions are fulfilled. Suspending John Terry's England captaincy is an appropriate and proportional restriction of his activities and should be implemented immediately.