Leading article: Football not behaving badly

Saturday 06 February 2010 01:00
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If every man who had an extramarital affair were dismissed from his job, Britain might well seize up the very next day. Nor is there any reason why personal morality should loom any larger in the world of football, even the world of the national team. In any collective, though, stability and cohesion must be paramount, which is why Fabio Capello took the decision he did, and why John Terry is no longer England captain.

At the end of a saga in which no one seemed to behave very well, however, yesterday saw a sudden outbreak of decency. Terry took his demotion like a man and promised to do his best for England. His alleged girlfriend declined to publish her kiss and tell. The Football Association deferred to the team manager. But the greatest credit by far belongs to Fabio Capello, who – in his refusal to be hurried, in the criteria he applied and in the dignified statement he issued afterwards – showed his mastery as manager and his sheer, incomparable class.

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