John Terry stripped of England captaincy

 

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The Independent Online

The Football Association today stripped John Terry of the England captaincy due to his racism court trial and revealed the decision had been taken without Fabio Capello's involvement.

The England manager has always insisted he should have control of team matters including the captaincy but the FA board, led by chairman David Bernstein, decided they had to step in after confirmation that the trial will not take place until after Euro 2012.

Capello, who will fly back from Italy at the weekend to attend Sunday's Chelsea v Manchester United match, was not involved in the discussions but will be free to pick Terry for England friendlies and Euro 2012 and to choose the replacement skipper - likely to be Steven Gerrard.

There have been reports that Terry, 31, is bitter at the decision and is considering retiring from international football - and his club manager Andres Villas-Boas criticised the FA's action.

Terry has been accused of racially abusing QPR's Anton Ferdinand, a charge which he denies, and will stand trial on July 9. A spokesman for the player declined to comment today.

Capello himself had stuck by his belief that Terry should be regarded as innocent until proven guilty and keep the armband.

It is the second time the Chelsea captain has been stripped of the England armband having also lost it two years ago after allegations surrounding his private life came to light.

Bernstein had spoken to all members of the 14-strong board yesterday about the issue and explained the decision to Terry and Capello over the phone this morning.

The FA said in a statement: "The FA board expected the trial to be concluded prior to the European Championship. Further to Wednesday's confirmation that the trial will not take place until after the tournament, the board has discussed the matter in detail and has collectively decided it is in the interests of all parties that John has the responsibilities of captaincy removed at this time.

"This decision has been taken due to the higher profile nature of the England captaincy, on and off the pitch, and the additional demands and requirements expected of the captain leading into and during a tournament.

"The FA board can confirm that he has not been excluded from the squad and that Fabio Capello is free to select him for the Holland fixture on 29 February and the European Championship.

"FA chairman David Bernstein has spoken to both John Terry and Fabio Capello to explain the facts to them. Fabio Capello has not been involved in the FA board discussions which reached this conclusion, but understands that the FA board has authority to make this decision.

"This decision in no way infers any suggestion of guilt in relation to the charge made against John Terry."

The FA board had discussed the captaincy issue at their meeting last month and though some members, including Bernstein and the new independent board member Heather Rabbatts, had wanted to take action then it was decided to postpone a decision.

The scheduling of the trial changed matters however and the majority of board members swung behind the move to relieve Terry of the captaincy.

Rabbatts, the Jamaican-born businesswoman and former Millwall deputy chairman and the first woman to be an FA director, is understood to have argued that anyone in public or a senior business position facing such a trial would have to stand aside.

There is also the possible scenario of England making a complaint about racist abuse from the crowd when playing matches in Ukraine this summer.

It would have been difficult for the FA to take the moral high ground if England's captain is himself facing a criminal charge for racism.

Sports minister Hugh Robertson backed the decision saying it would have been "impossible" for Terry to continue.

Robertson said: "I completely support the FA's decision. It would have been impossible for John Terry to have continued as captain with this charge over his head."

Chelsea boss Villas-Boas said Terry would remain as club captain and criticised the FA.

He said: "We have to really question what was their thinking process over that one.

"I don't agree with it but you have to ask the FA about it and the people responsible for the decision.

"The statement from the FA is pretty clear on what was their decision-making. I don't agree with it, John will continue to be our captain and I have no further things to say."

Former England captain Rio Ferdinand ruled himself out of contention to take over from Terry.

The Manchester United defender stepped in when Terry lost the captaincy two years ago, before the job was returned to his centre-back colleague.

Rio Ferdinand was angered at his treatment by Capello when the captaincy was restored to Terry a year ago without the former Leeds and West Ham player being informed.

He has told the BBC programme Football Focus, in an interview to be shown tomorrow, that the captaincy is not for him this time.

"No," he said, according to the BBC Sport website. "I've been England captain before for a brief period. It was taken away from me so I just want to concentrate on playing for Manchester United, to be honest with you. I'm happy to be playing good football for Manchester United."

PA

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