The prospect of the England captain being accused of racism hangs over the game today with Anton Ferdinand expected to ask Queen's Park Rangers to petition the Football Association to investigate allegations that John Terry abused him during Chelsea's defeat at Loftus Road on Sunday. Ferdinand will make a final decision this morning after speaking to manager Neil Warnock, but The Independent understands that his inclination is to take the matter further.
Ferdinand and Terry clashed during the match, and afterwards the England captain was accused by television viewers, via Twitter and the internet, of using foul and racist language towards Ferdinand. He put out a statement denying the accusation and stating he and Ferdinand had spoken after the match and "there was no problem between us". However, it clearly was not closed as far as Ferdinand was concerned.
What did happen after the match was a tunnel bust-up between players from both sides, which is claimed to have involved Terry and QPR goalkeeper, Paddy Kenny, who was furious after the Chelsea captain allegedly insulted him on the pitch with a jibe of a very personal nature.
The issue between Terry and Ferdinand is given added edge by the fact Terry this year regained the England captaincy from Anton's brother Rio Ferdinand.
Terry had added in his statement: "I would never say such a thing, and I'm saddened that people would think so. I am the proud captain of one of the most internationally diverse teams in the Premier League and I absolutely believe that there is no place for racism in sport, indeed in any walk of life."
Racism allegations are notoriously hard to prove, as Manchester United's Patrice Evra is finding out with regard to the allegation he made against Liverpool's Luis Suarez. In 2007, an FA charge against Emre, the Turkish midfielder then with Newcastle, was found not proven following allegations he had racially abused Everton players. It later emerged the verdict followed a discrepancy as to whether he used the word "negro" or "nigger".
This is the second time Terry has had to defend himself against an accusation of making racist remarks after it was claimed he had abused Tottenham's Ledley King in November 2006. Terry, who played junior football with King, denied the claim and no evidence was found to support it.
Terry was one of seven Chelsea players booked and, like Ashley Cole, fortunate not to be dismissed along with Jose Bosingwa and Didier Drogba. The sixth yellow triggered an automatic £25,000 fine under FA regulations and there may be further punishment for Andre Villa-Boas for the FA is reviewing his post-match comments about referee Chris Foy. The Chelsea manager insisted his players did not lose their discipline but accused Foy of being "card-happy" and losing control of his emotions. "I have a problem with referees supplying discipline," said Villas-Boas.
The manager added: "I really cannot understand the difference of the judgement of the referee. Not only the major decisions, but the fouls, the throw-ins. I cannot understand it. Apart from the fourth official, the other three were led by the emotions of the crowd and couldn't deal with a game like this."
Whether Villas-Boas could impose a disciplinary crackdown on his team, even if he wanted to, is unclear. In an interview with Uefa Technician magazine he admits that, "because of my age and my lack of a professional playing background I could never be dictatorial. I therefore let the players have a certain amount of input into the decisions regarding the way we play and the way the team is run".
Shaun Derry, the QPR midfielder, who had a running battle with Frank Lampard during the game, said: "These top, top players aren't used to losing and they aren't used to losing to teams of our stature. Perhaps it hurt them because they showed that even the best players can lose their heads. Most of the yellow cards were for Chelsea players and I felt we kept our heads. That was part of our gameplan."
Derry admitted that the sight of their opponents complaining to the referee gave QPR heart. "We knew we were doing our job right. These big players have a knack of persuading refs to make different decisions but the ref was very strong. I thought he reffed it superbly."
The fall-out from the match managed to overshadow the importance of the result to QPR as they enter a tough run of fixtures. "When you are coming up against Chelsea, Tottenham and Man City you are looking for bonus points," added Derry.