A Model of Indecisiveness

Mark Perryman is the author of Ingerland: Travels with a Football Nation and co-founder of www.philosophyfootball.com and writes here exclusively for The Substantive on the current handling of John Terry.

The alleged racist abuse of Anton Ferdinand by John Terry took place at a game in October 2011. Almost two months later the CPS decide there is sufficient evidence for a case to answer. Another two months and finally the case came to court this week only for it to be announced that the trial will be delayed until after Euro 2012. Getting on for ten months after the alleged incident.

Various reasons were given for the delay until 9 July, the main one being that Terry, Ferdinand and the various witnesses likely to be called were too busy playing football. The very real danger with this is that it seems to suggest that the offence of racist abuse of a player isn’t that serious and can wait until the end of the season to be sorted out. It is unlikely this would be a drawn out case, a week or a fortnight at most. If it had gone to trial to coincide with the England friendly on 29th February perhaps only one or two games at most would have been missed. And surely it is in everyone’s interests to have this matter sorted out, once and for all.

And now the FA Board look set to add their model of indecisive action to the mess. Taking the England captaincy off Terry on the grounds that he may be distracted is entirely inconsistent with him successfully captaining Chelsea every week. Likewise if it is a case of a poor public image for the game, shouldn’t the same go for captaining such a high profile English club team? The only possible reason though, and of course nobody from the FA is saying this publicly, is that the they are fearful if the case is proven England will have been captained at the Euros by a convicted racist.

It’s a mess of indecisiveness and inconsistencies. If Football – and this means everyone: fans, players, managers, clubs, governing bodies – is as serious about kicking racism out as we liked to believe, the court case should happen now.

Mark Perryman