England should ban Terry if guilty of racism, says Les Ferdinand
LES Ferdinand, the former England striker, said last night that John Terry should never play international football again if he is found to have racially abused his cousin.
It follows the launch of a Football Association investigation into whether Terry directed a racial slur at Anton Ferdinand during Sunday’s Premier League match between Chelsea and Queens Parks Rangers. Terry categorically denies the allegation and has welcomed the inquiry as a chance to clear his name.
Les Ferdinand, appearing at the Black List Awards in London last night, was asked if Terry should be banned from the national team if the allegations were proven. "It’s down to the FA, but I’d be shouting from the rooftops [for that]," he said. "They need to make a statement. If they don’t, paltry fines that have been handed out in the past prove that these people do not believe there is a problem with racism in football."
Fabio Capello, the England manager, is planning to select Terry in his squad for next month’s friendly matches against Spain and Sweden, but is likely to omit Rio Ferdinand.
The decision will be based on football considerations, yet the absence of Ferdinand would clearly avoid a potentially awkward situation given that he is Anton’s brother.
The FA have already begun interviewing witnesses and representatives from their governance and regulation team
It is believed Anton Ferdinand, as well as at least three of his QPR team-mates, were among those who spoke to FA officials. Ferdinand accepts that he did not directly hear what Terry said to him during Sunday’s match, but was sufficiently concerned by subsequent footage of the incident for QPR to request an investigation.
The flashpoint occurred in the 85th minute of the match, when it is alleged that Terry mouthed the words 'you ******* black ****' towards Ferdinand.
Terry said that he thought Ferdinand had accused him of making a racist slur and "responded aggressively, saying that I never used that term". Chelsea have suggested that Terry only used the offending words as part of a longer sentence denying any racism.
It is claimed, however, that Ferdinand will be supported by some of his team-mates in saying that there was no initial accusation that Terry had said something untoward. Ferdinand spoke with Terry after the game, but failed to endorse his subsequent explanation and asked for the FA to investigate.
There is no timeframe for the FA inquiry but, with the England squad for the Spain and Sweden friendlies due to be announced a week on Sunday, there is the possibility of it still hanging over Terry when the players next congregate.
However, sources with expert knowledge of investigations by the FA's governance and regulation team have told Telegraph Sport that it should take around a week for them to speak with the relevant witnesses and study the available evidence. Once that happens, the case is referred to the FA’s legal team who will determine whether there is sufficient evidence to merit a charge. The investigation is not being specifically fast-tracked and could be slowed by the playing commitments of the two clubs.
Chelsea faced Everton last night in the Carling Cup, although Terry was not in the squad. Ashley Cole, who is expected to be a key witness in the investigation, also did make the trip to Merseyside. Anton Ferdinand was visiting a half-term QPR soccer school yesterday.
As well as the FA, the Metropolitan Police are also carrying out their assessment of the incident and are expected to speak with key witnesses before deciding whether to launch a formal investigation.
Capello is adamant that any implications for the England captaincy or Terry’s place in the team cannot be considered until the FA investigation has run its course. The Italian will also not let the Terry investigation impact on other squad decisions for the Spain and Sweden matches.
Rio Ferdinand has been struggling to regain his best form since returning from a hamstring injury and was widely criticised for his performance in the 6-1 humiliation against Manchester City on Sunday.