The fallout from the John Terry court case looks likely to bring major changes to English football, with the players' union yesterday calling for their own members to receive red cards if they use foul and abusive language to each other. As the Football Association considered whether to charge the Chelsea captain and QPR's Anton Ferdinand with bringing the game into disrepute for their expletive-ridden language, Clarke Carlisle urged them to consider major changes to the sanctions for swearing.
Carlisle, the chairman of the Professional Footballers Association, told The Independent: "At present a red card for foul and abusive language is only shown when a player abuses match officials. What the FA should is do is order referees to show the red card even when players abuse each other."
Terry was cleared of racially abusing Ferdinand on Friday. However, the case revealed the extent of the abusive language used by both players during last season's match at Loftus Road.
Carlisle admits: "For a period this will cause mayhem, but there can be no progress without a struggle. Players use language to get a competitive edge in an act of oneupmanship and you cannot expect players to be saints. But the FA need to act to clean up the image of the game. They have to set the tone."
The PFA failed to mediate between the players and while Ashley Cole, Chelsea's most prominent black player, gave evidence in support of Terry, Carlisle does not deny that the case divided his union, often along racial lines. "When there is a racist allegation it is going to polarise opinion," he said. "But that is not just in football, that is true of society as a whole."
This case, coming in the wake of the FA finding Liverpool's Luis Suarez guilty of racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra, has also refocused attention on race. It makes, says Paul Elliott, Chelsea's first black captain, the FA inquiry into the case crucial. "Not withstanding that John Terry has been cleared in a criminal court the FA must see if any rules of football have been violated. We thought racism had been eradicated. It has only been managed."
Not many black players want to talk openly about this. But Brendan Batson, who as player suffered much racial abuse in the bad days of the Eighties, and is now an FA consultant and chairman of the quango Sporting Equals, who promote ethnic diversity, acknowledges: "There is a lot of unhappiness and frustration among the current crop of black players at the lack of progress since black players began to be integrated in the Seventies.
"Kick It Out have been going since 1993 and we have seen advancement on the pitch. What we have not seen is the same rate of advancement off the pitch."
All this suggests the game is still to come to terms with the ramifications of the Terry case, with the proposed FA inquiry assuming much significance.
Meanwhile the row reignited on Twitter last night after Ashley Cole was accused in a tweet to Rio Ferdinand of being a "choc ice" – commonly understood to mean "black on the outside, white on the inside".
The tweeter wrote: "Looks like Ashley Cole's going to be their choc ice. Then again he's always been a sell out. Shame on him."
Manchester United defender Rio replied: "I hear you fella! Choc ice is classic! ha ha ha ha ha ha!!"
As users began commenting, Ferdinand added: "And if I want to laugh at something someone tweets... I will! Ha ha ha ha ha! Now stop getting ya knickers in a twist!"
Cole later said in a statement through his lawyers: "Ashley Cole wishes to make it clear that he and Rio Ferdinand are good friends and Ashley has no intention of making any sort of complaint.
"Ashley appreciates that Tweeting is so quick it often results in off-hand and stray comments."
Follow Mihir Bose on Twitter: twitter.com/@mihirbose