The Football Association yesterday dismissed concerns that it could be open to charges of hypocrisy over the appointment of interim England manager Stuart Pearce, who had to apologise for racially abusing Paul Ince during a Premier League game in 1994.
The England Under-21s manager, who will take over the senior team for this month's friendly against the Netherlands, also has a brother, Dennis, who has stood for election for the far-right British National Party and is a committed supporter of the group. Pearce has distanced himself from his brother's political views.
It was John Terry's court case to defend a charge of racial abuse which, when it was postponed until 9 July, began the chain of events that led to Fabio Capello's resignation on Wednesday. The FA board stripped Terry of the captaincy a week ago today when it was decided, chairman David Bernstein said yesterday, that it was "not appropriate" for him to continue in the role with the charge hanging over him.
Capello tendered his resignation on Wednesday following a meeting with Bernstein at Wembley. It has since emerged that he was more angered at being left out of the decision-making process than he was at the principle of removing the captaincy from Terry.
Last night, however, it was the episode involving Pearce that looked as if it could embarrass the FA. The incident, during a game between Nottingham Forest and Manchester United in December 1994, was acknowledged by the then Forest manager Frank Clark and Sir Alex Ferguson, who later mentioned it in his 1999 autobiography.
It is a sign of how attitudes in English football have changed dramatically in the 17 years since that the incident was largely ignored at the time despite the profile of the players, who were both England internationals. There were no charges brought against Pearce.
The incident was resolved by Gordon Taylor, the Professional Footballers' Association chief executive, who said at the time that Pearce had acknowledged his mistake.
Taylor was quoted in newspaper editions on 21 December 1994 as saying: "Stuart regrets what he has done. He will be ringing Paul to apologise. "Stuart wants to make sure they are back on friendly terms again especially as they are England colleagues. I am sure Terry Venables [the England coach] will be pleased with that.
"Stuart regrets what he said. It was said in the heat of the moment. He wants to make sure everybody knows he is sorry and hopefully that will be the end of the matter. I am sure Paul will accept the apology in the manner in which it is intended."
When the FA was reminded of the incident at yesterday's press conference at Wembley it appeared to take some of the executives by surprise. Adrian Bevington, the managing director of Club England, said: "We're not going to go back over extensive grounds today in that respect. Stuart's position in regard to issues around his brother I can talk about. I certainly can't talk about the comment you're raising there."
Bernstein also conceded that the FA's search for a new manager could lead it to appoint one coach for the Euro 2012 tournament in the summer as a temporary measure and then another for the qualification campaign for the 2014 World Cup finals.
Bernstein said: "All options are open. I am only talking common sense. We are not prepared to restrict ourselves at this stage. He might be English, he might be British, he might not be, he might be for the Euros only, he might be long-term. We need to look at all the options."
The embarrassment caused to Pearce by the activities of his brother has been a long-standing issue for the Under-21s manager and he has said categorically in the past that he does not share his brother's views. He has been quoted as saying: "My brother's political views are his own and are not in anyway reflected in my own views."
Bernstein said yesterday: "We've made it clear as an organisation. There have been a few newspaper reports, previously, where Stuart has been asked this specific question and Stuart has made it clear that he is not involved in his brother's political beliefs, in the same way as I'm sure that everybody who has siblings does not always share their political stance. It's a matter for Stuart Pearce's brother rather than Stuart, we would suggest."
Unfortunately for Stuart, his brother has been an active member of the BNP. He has stood for election three times, once as an MP in the South-west Norfolk constituency. He also stood for election as a London MEP and for a seat in the London Assembly.
In 2008, Dennis was quoted by The People as saying that he supported the BNP's manifesto "completely". Dennis, one of Stuart's two brothers, both older than him, said: "The country is full up. There are too many people here. It's time to shut the door on immigrants. Immigration isn't helping crime rates drop, that's for sure.
"I served in the Army. It was about fighting communism, because communists stopped freedom of speech. I'm fighting for the same with the BNP. This is a Christian country. Islam is not compatible with this country."
Saying sorry: Pearce's apology to Ince
The Daily Telegraph, 21 December 1994 Stuart Pearce, the England defender and Nottingham Forest captain, is to apologise to Paul Ince, his international colleague, for allegedly making racist comments.
Pearce was said to have made the comments during Forest's 2-1 win at Old Trafford on Saturday, United's first home defeat of the season.
Yesterday Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, said: "I have spoken to Stuart and he will be ringing Paul to apologise.
"The PFA is determined to eradicate any form of racism in the game and is currently in the second season of a campaign geared to combat the problem."
Taylor added: "Stuart wants to make sure they are back on friendly terms again especially as they are England colleagues. I am sure Terry Venables [the England coach] will be pleased with that.
"Stuart regrets what he said. It was said in the heat of the moment. He wants to make sure everybody knows he is sorry and hopefully that will be the end of the matter. I am sure Paul will accept the apology in the manner in which it is intended."Reuse content