The Last Word: Blame is the game and everyone is primed to kick it into touch

The Terry affair has highlighted a problem that is becoming endemic

Whatever they claim, deflect the blame, and never explain. Vindication might be unlikely, but victimhood means never having to say you are sorry. A rag-tag army of attention-seekers, rabble-rousers and conspiracy theorists will rally to the most incoherent cause.

Sport's culture of complicity and denial has never been more entrenched. Yet, with rare exceptions, the level of popular debate sparked by John Terry, and sustained by the likes of Luis Suarez and Lance Armstrong makes the Jeremy Kyle show seem positively Ciceronean.

A member of a Wham! tribute band, later identified as the former Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan, offered such philosophical gems as: "First it's kick out racism, then it's kick out homophobia, what next? Kick the smokers out? Kick the drinkers out?"

A gap-toothed Terry apologist, the former politician David Mellor, metaphorically took that Chelsea shirt out of the wardrobe before suggesting the verdict of the FA's "kangaroo court" was "outrageous". M'learned friends may be unsurprised to discover he no longer practises as a barrister.

No one lacks an opinion, however banal. One TV programme featured JT's psychodrama alongside such profundities as "Could you ever be in a relationship with someone who supported a rival club?"

There is a serious point here, buried in a landfill site of deceit, malice, prejudice and blind faith. Since sport reflects society, no one feels the need to apologise, or even acknowledge the concerns of their accusers. Contrition tends to be theatrical and transparent.

Individuals and institutions are unable, or unwilling, to accept the link between actions and consequences. When challenged, even on such a fundamental issue as racism, they simply cling to assumptions of authority, or approximations of reality. Little wonder we are lost in a moral maze.

Millions still accept the myth of Armstrong's martyrdom. Terry and Suarez exploit illogical tribal loyalty. All three have indulged, shamelessly, in the worst type of emotional blackmail: believe in me, or lose faith in your instincts and convictions.

The FA, quietly congratulating themselves for channelling the spirit of Clarence Darrow, have no room for complacency. Their disciplinary process is opaque yet, despite Parliamentary calls for greater independence, deemed untouchable. Such lack of scrutiny is, to use the word of the week, untenable. The system is deeply flawed, open to abuse. Since the media are not allowed access, public opinion is shaped by off-the-record briefings rather than a contemporaneous report of proceedings. The written judgment in the Terry case will be filtered through lawyers and communications specialists.

Rules are there to be applied when convenient or massaged when politically expedient. David Bernstein has received approval for a one-year extension to his contract as FA chairman, through to 2014. The statute requiring him to retire at 70 – he will be 71 at the next World Cup – has been quietly rewritten.

Football has credibility problems – challenged by his own anti-corruption adviser on Friday, the Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, felt the need to insist "We are not corrupt or a mafia organisation" – but they pale alongside those of cycling.

Pat McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen, key figures in the UCI, cycling's governing body, refused to accept the legitimacy of questions about their approach to the Armstrong crisis, which can charitably be described as inept.

They then went further, taking legal action against Paul Kimmage, the former cyclist whose work as a campaigning anti-doping journalist is globally acclaimed. Unusually, this did not extend to the publications to which Kimmage contributed.

A fighting fund, organised through social media, had raised $44,000 (£27,000) by yesterday morning. A PR disaster for the UCI will acquire an additional dimension if, as anticipated, the Armstrong report, compiled by the US Anti-Doping Agency, includes allegations that the organisation were complicit in a cover-up.

People with everything to lose will try to ride out the storm. They always do. For once, they must not succeed.

Now Venky's need to take the Kean route

Steve Kean, Mr Bean in a tracksuit, was an accident waiting to happen. He embodied the desperation of his trade, and football's fatal imbalance of talent and ambition.

His career prospects are bleak. The perception that he is a malleable character, an inept man-manager and a poor judge of a player will endure.

A figure of fun for neutrals, Kean was loathed by many Blackburn Rovers fans, who derided him as a delusional incompetent.

They deserted Ewood Park in their droves, but there is little reason for them to return while the club remain unfit for purpose.

Quite why Venky's exposed themselves to ridicule by paying £23 million for Blackburn has yet to be adequately explained.

They are involved in a game they patently do not understand, at a community-focused club for which they obviously have no respect.

Forget the manager for a moment. Blackburn have shed their chairman and managing director, along with the deputy CEO.

They have given a deeply unpopular press officer boardroom influence and employed a former Asian TV pundit as a global adviser.

It is surreal and unsustainable. Venky's should sell the club and go back to making millions from caged chicks and processed meat.

A bad image

Lewis Hamilton is the perfect Formula One poster boy. He's glib, narcissistic and sufficiently ruthless to dump his father as a career move. Leaving McLaren for Mercedes, who will allow him to exploit his image rights, merely confirms he is driven by money.

Sport
footballHe started just four months ago
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect